Q&A: Copyright regulations


From the Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne):

Q: In a follow-up on the story concerning academic freedom involving author Howard Zinn and comments by Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, we want to use some excerpts from one of Zinn’s books.

Are we limited to 500 words to avoid a claim of copyright infringement?

A: Since you’re pulling excerpts from a book and including attribution, there isn’t a formula or word-limit in place that would act as a threshold for a copyright action.

Unless you’re posting a significant portion on the Internet, robbing the publisher of revenue because readers won’t need to purchase Zinn’s book, there won’t be a basis for a copyright infringement action. You’re going to fall under the protection of the Fair Use Doctrine.

The publisher will probably appreciate the publicity for the book because the newspaper story may spark new purchases of the text.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.