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How do I avoid copyright infringement?

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Either independently develop or license from a reliable source all of the images and other works of authorship that you use personally and in your businesses. If you do this, then you won’t infringe anyone’s copyright.

There is a legal way to use copyrighted works in the US without getting a license. It’s called “fair use” and is a limited defense against copyright infringement for use of a copyrighted work for a specific purpose. There are 4 factors to consider:

  • the purpose and character of your use of the copyrighted work;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work, itself;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion taken (used); and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work.

You’d like to know that your use is “fair use” BEFORE being sued. But this is a difficult analysis, even for an intellectual property attorney.

Typically, a legal opinion for a relatively easy analysis would cost $10,000. So, “fair use” is not for everyone.

Also, fair use is merely an affirmative defense to copyright infringement. So, relying on fair use basically admits infringement. If you’re analysis is wrong, it’s going to cost you.

So, it’s better to own or license works.

About the Author

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I'm Chris Paradies, a Florida Bar certified intellectual property Attorney and U.S. Reg. Patent Attorney, founder of Paradies® law and creator of the IPscaling process. I chair the board of directors for the Tampa Bay Innovation Center and serve as a facilitator helping small business owners get started right. I work hard as an advocate for small businesses and have received awards and recognition for support of small business economic development and leadership in technology. I'm a West Point graduate, U.S. Army veteran and entrepreneur. I'm not afraid to stand up and say that the Big Law model is broken and doesn't serve entrepreneurs well. Some of the alternatives are even worse! This is a market ripe for disruptive change. And I'm willing to take the lead. Join me!


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