Applying Fair Use to Marketing and Public Relations (Fair Use Pt. 2)

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In this second part of our two-part series on fair use, we’ll be looking at some frequently asked questions regarding fair use and how it applies to marketing and public relations. In part one, we took a look at fair use in a Q&A with media law professor Dr. Matthew D. Bunker, where we discussed the basic elements of fair use and copyright law, and how fair use lawsuits are settled.

Now let’s look at some frequently asked questions regarding fair use and how it applies to marketing and public relations.

  1. Our company was the subject of a newspaper/magazine article. We would like to repost the article on our own website. Would a situation like this fall under fair use?

It’s possible such a use would be considered fair use if the person posting uses a few sentences from the beginning of an article, then includes a link to the full article. This approach would fall under the “extent of the use” factor by using a smaller portion of the original work and would also direct traffic to the original creator, lessening the chance of negatively affecting the market for the original work.

  1. We would like to use an image of New York City in our company’s blog post. Is this okay?

It fully depends on the source of the image. If the image is copyrighted then legally you aren’t allowed to use it without the consent of the copyright holder. To avoid this issue altogether, it’s best to use images with a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that facilitates the sharing and use of creative materials (images, music, etc.). Using an image licensed under Creative Commons ensures you won’t be at risk of a lawsuit. There are also other websites that offer free-to-use images – just Google “free to use pictures” and a variety of sites will show up. Be sure you read the terms of use for these sites as some will require you to accredit the image while others will not. A great site with beautiful free-to-use images that we frequently use is (To search for images licensed under Creative Commons, click here.)

  1. We’re creating a video to use on our website and share via social media. What music are we allowed to use?

As with images, you need make sure you use music that is licensed under Creative Commons or is sourced from a website that explicitly states the music is free-to-use. Don’t let that discourage you though; there is wealth of great music out there available for use. To learn more about legal music for videos, the Creative Commons site provides a great guide. (To search for music licensed under Creative Commons, click here.)

We hope this has addressed any questions you might have regarding fair use and marketing/public relations. It’s important to remember that fair use law is complicated, and in the end the only way to resolve a fair use dispute is through a lawsuit. If you’re not positive that the content you are working with is covered under fair use, you’re better off not using it.

What other questions do you have about fair use as it relates to marketing and public relations? Leave us a comment below or send us an email and we’ll answer to the best of our abilities.

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