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Fair Dealing and Fair Use

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Copyright laws and protections vary widely from country to country. A work that is copyrighted in a nation that is a cosigner of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and/or the Universal Copyright Convention will enjoy a reasonable level of protection in all cosigning nations. Individuals in nations that have not signed these agreements will have wildly different standards of copyright protection. Individuals in those nations may engage in acts that signing nations define as piracy with the full support of their country’s laws.

This post is focused on concepts that are similar, but different between cosigning nations. The United States as the legal standard of Fair Use. A number of countries influenced by British common law have a similar tradition that is called Fair Dealing. Actual legal definitions of Fair Dealing can and do vary from country to country.

Both Fair Dealing and Fair Use allow for the use of copyrighted materials in certain defined situations. Most versions of Fair Dealing allow for limited portions of a work to be used for personal scholarship, criticism, news reporting, and other similar situations the same as Fair Use.

Educational usage is the major point of difference between the two concepts. Fair Use considers educational purposes to be a valid factor in invoking the defense. Most versions of Fair Dealing do not. This is an important point to keep in mind when teaching or performing scholarship in nations that have a codified Fair Dealing exemption.

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