Fair Use:
GLP’s aggregation of articles and use of images under the Fair Use copyright exception

The GLP aggregates approximately 11 articles and features two new articles each day. Articles written specifically for the GLP or the articles that are reposed from other (sometimes in modified form) with permission list the source as Genetic Literacy Project. Excerpted articles list the original media outlet as the source.  Excerpts are posted under guidelines for Fair Use and Creative Commons for educational nonprofits (501c3).

For excerpted articles, following Fair Use and Creative Commons guidelines,  the GLP selects short segments from an article chosen to reflect the original piece. The title of the excerpt is changed so as not to pose a conflict in searches (except in cases in which the author or original source requests to retain the original title). The short excerpt is provided  along with the author’s name, source and a link to the original article.

We often add pictures or illustrations to original and excerpted articles. When available, we use pictures or illustrations in the public domain. When we use pictures or illustrations under copyright, we follow Fair Use guidelines under for educational organizations and nonprofits.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a right to use copyrighted material under certain circumstances without consent of the author or owner of the copyright. Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for certain purposes, such as commentary and criticism, nonprofit educational purposes, or parody. This principle recognizes that society can often benefit from the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials, when the use furthers scholarship and education or informs the public.

As specified in the language of the statute, Fair Use purposes include: “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.” The teaching, scholarly and research activities at both nonprofit and for-profit institutions meet this requirement. The four Fair Use factors are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use.
  2. The nature of the work used.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used.
  4. The impact of the use on the market for and value of the work used.

There are many misunderstandings about what constitutes Fair Use. Courts have found that nonprofit institutions such as educational nonprofit (501c3) websites such as the Genetic Literacy Project operate under the Fair Use exception when they engage in nonprofit instructional, research, public education or scholarly activities for the benefit of the public or a contribution to the field of knowledge. The GLP is not a commercial operation and does not profit from the posting of excerpts or images.

There are no specific guidelines as to how much of a work can be reposted under Fair Use; depending on the circumstances it can be an entire article. The GLP generally reproduces at most 10%-20% of an article or blog. The GLP uses the exact words of the original article in the order they appear to preserve their meaning, although it does edit out segments to adhere to our self-imposed percentage word limit. The GLP does not summarize articles because that would introduce concerns that the GLP is filtering or otherwise presenting a biased accounting.

The GLP changes the title of an article and does its best to preserve the editorial focus of the original piece so as not to confuse search engines, which could prioritize the title of the excerpted stub on the GLP page over the original article, which is not the GLP’s intention. The GLP complies with any author or source who wants the GLP to use only the original article’s title.

Image use falls under many of the same guidelines. The Fair Use exception allows the use of copyright-protected images under certain circumstances. In general, if a nonprofit organization uses an image for educational, research, commentary or non-profit purposes, or if it transforms the image was part of an article that creates a new meaning, or uses the image in a fact-based context that benefits the public, such as informing the public about an issue of public interest, then the use of the image is considered Fair Use. That is how images are used on the GLP.

Resources about Fair Use:

Public Counsel Law Center
US Copyright Office
Stanford University

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