Exploring Fair Use in Copyright Law: A Comprehensive Overview

Exploring Fair Use in Copyright Law: A Comprehensive Overview

Exploring Fair Use in Copyright Law: A Comprehensive Overview


Copyright law plays a pivotal role in protecting the creative works of individuals and entities, granting them exclusive rights to control the use and distribution of their creations.

It safeguards their ability to control the use, distribution, and reproduction of their creations, fostering innovation and providing incentives for creativity.

This protective mechanism not only encourages the generation of new ideas but also maintains a delicate balance between artistic freedom and the interests of creators.

What is Fair Use in Copyright Law?

Fair use is an approving defence that can be raised in response to claims by a copyright owner that a person is infringing a copyright.

Fair use allows a party to utilize a copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s permission for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

These purposes represent what might be considered fair use.

Copyright law does have four factors that must be considered in deciding whether a use constitutes a fair use. These factors are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including it is commercial or non-profit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used about the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the value of the copyrighted work.

Indian case study:

India TV Independent News Services Pvt. Ltd. v/s. Yashraj Films Pvt. Ltd


Yashraj Films Private Limited filed a case against India TV Independent News Services Pvt. Ltd. For infringement of copyright.

The case:

India TV broadcasted a show on its channel documenting the lives of the singers. During their performances, clips of a movie scene were shown playing in the background.

The plaintiff, that is, Yashraj Films Private Limited claimed that such a scene of the movie in the background constitutes copyright infringement.

The defendants took the defence of fair dealing under Section 52. [Section 52: The Copyright Act, 1957 provides for certain exceptions to infringement of copyright in specific cases. The provision permits limited use of copyright material without the owner’s authorization.

This includes educational, research, and personal use, as well as news reporting. It also allows libraries and archives to make copies for preservation. Furthermore, it covers public displays, performances, and reproductions of certain works. However, these uses must be fair and not harm the creator’s interests.]

A decision in court:

The Delhi Court rejected the fair dealing defence and issued an injunction against the defendants, prohibiting them from producing, distributing, broadcasting, or otherwise exploiting any cinematograph film, sound recording, or part thereof owned by Plaintiff.

Source: LINK


In a country like India, the concept of fair use and fair dealing extends beyond Section 52 of the Copyright Act. There are additional exceptions such as the de negligible defence and the free speech exception, among others.

The scope of fair use or fair dealing, particularly in India, depends upon the facts, circumstances, and external factors of each case.

At PATHtoIP®, we ensure that every client receives exceptional results through high-quality copyright research. As an experienced firm, we are dedicated to providing copyright protection and delivering results capable of reaching your goals.

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