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Fair use defence to copyright infringement

Use of a copyrighted work for certain purposes is permitted under copyright law and does not attract infringement provisions. This is known as fair use (in the US). The Indian Copyright Act uses the expression ‘fair dealing’. Section 52 of the Copyright Act lists 31 exceptions. Broadly speaking, the exceptions permit the following kinds of actions in relation to copyrighted works (Permitted Uses):
  • Use for the purpose of research and private study, or for review and criticism
  • Reporting of current events
  • Reading a reasonable quantity of the extract in public
  • Reproduction or performance in the course of instruction, or as part of questions (or answers) in an examination
  • Viewing of a recording by members of a club or non-profit organization, or by residents of residential premises as part of the amenities.
  • Making or publication of drawings, paintings or artistic works that are permanently situated in public places or premises to which the public has access
  • Making up to 3 copies of a book (including pamphlet, sheet music, chart) for use by a public library if the book is not available for sale in India
  • Making copies of a computer program from a personal copy which has been legally obtained, for non-commercial personal use (Software Use 1)
  • Any acts necessary to obtain information essential for inter-operability of an independently created computer program with other programs by a lawful possessor of a computer program if such information is not otherwise readily available (Software Use 2)

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