Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Class 30: Introduction to Fair Use


In the last several classes, we have learned about the substantive aspects of an infringement action. We learned about the elements of both primary and secondary infringement actions. And we learned about the remedies available for infringement: injunctions, damages, and attorney's fees.

In the next several classes we will learn about defenses to copyright infringement. In this class, we will begin our discussion of the fair use doctrine. And in subsequent classes, we will learn how courts apply the fair use doctrine and other defenses in different circumstances.

Fair Use

The fair use doctrine is the most important defense to copyright infringement, because it prevents copyright owners from abusing their copyright. Essentially, it provides that certain uses of a copyrighted work are not infringing uses. In other words, if the plaintiff presents a prima facie case of infringement, by proving ownership, copying, and substantial similarity, the defendant can avoid liability by proving that the use in question was a fair use.

The History of the Fair Use Doctrine

While the fair use doctrine was first articulated in Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F. Cas. 342 (C.C.D. Mass. 1841), it has always been a fundamental element of United States copyright law, because it ensures that copyright does not violate the First Amendment right to free speech. Copyright necessarily implicates free speech, because copyright is essentially the right to control speech, by controlling the use of a protected expression. The fair use doctrine provides that copyright owners can control some uses of a protected expression, but cannot control others.

Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F. Cas. 342 (C.C.D. Mass. 1841)
STORY, Circuit Justice. 
This is one of those intricate and embarrassing questions, arising in the administration of civil justice, in which it is not, from the peculiar nature and character of the controversy, easy to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion, or to lay down any general principles applicable to all cases. Patents and copyrights approach, nearer than any other class of cases belonging to forensic discussions, to what may be called the metaphysics of the law, where the distinctions are, or at least may be, very subtile and refined, and, sometimes, almost evanescent. In many cases, indeed, what constitutes an infringement of a patented invention, is sufficiently clear and obvious, and stands upon broad and general agreements and differences; but, in other cases, the lines approach very near to each other, and, sometimes, become almost evanescent, or melt into each other. So, in cases of copyright, it is often exceedingly obvious, that the whole substance of one work has been copied from another, with slight omissions and formal differences only, which can be treated in no other way than as studied evasions; whereas, in other cases, the identity of the two works in substance, and the question of piracy, often depend upon a nice balance of the comparative use made in one of the materials of the other; the nature, extent, and value of the materials thus used; the objects of each work; and the degree to which each writer may be fairly presumed to have resorted to the same common sources of information, or to have exercised the same common diligence in the selection and arrangement of the materials. Thus, for example, no one can doubt that a reviewer may fairly cite largely from the original work, if his design be really and truly to use the passages for the purposes of fair and reasonable criticism. On the other hand, it is as clear, that if he thus cites the most important parts of the work, with a view, not to criticise, but to supersede the use of the original work, and substitute the review for it, such a use will be deemed in law a piracy. A wide interval might, of course, exist between these two extremes, calling for great caution and involving great difficulty, where the court is approaching the dividing middle line which separates the one from the other. So, it has been decided that a fair and bonb̂ona fide abridgment of an original work, is not a piracy of the copyright of the author. See Dodsley v. Kinnersley, 1 Amb. 403; Whittingham v. Wooler, 2 Swanst. 428, 430, 431, note; Tonson v. Walker, 3 Swanst. 672-679, 681. But, then, what constitutes a fair and bonb̂ona fide abridgment, in the sense of the law, is one of the most difficult points, under particular circumstances, which can well arise for judicial discussion. It is clear, that a mere selection, or different arrangement of parts of the original work, so as to bring the work into a smaller compass, will not be held to be such an abridgment. There must be real, substantial condensation of the materials, and intellectual labor and judgment bestowed thereon; and not merely the facile use of the scissors; or extracts of the essential parts, constituting the chief value of the original work. See Gyles v. Wilcox, 2 Atk. 141. 
In the present case, the work alleged to be pirated, is the Writings of President Washington, in twelve volumes, royal octavo, containing nearly seven thousand pages, of which the first volume contains a life of Washington, by the learned editor, Mr. Sparks, in respect to which no piracy is asserted or proved. The other eleven volumes consist of the letters of Washington, private and official, and his messages and other public acts, with explanatory notes and occasional illustrations by the editor. That the original work is of very great, and, I may almost say, of inestimable value, as the repository of the thoughts and opinions of that great man, no one pretends to doubt. The work of the defendants is in two volumes, duodecimo, containing eight hundred and sixty-six pages. It consists of a Life of Washington, written by the learned defendant, (the Rev. Charles W. Upham), which is formed upon a plan different from that of Mr. Sparks, and in which Washington is made mainly to tell the story of his own life, by inserting therein his letters and his messages, and other written documents, with such connecting lines in the narrative, as may illustrate and explain the times and circumstances, and occasions of writing them. Now, as I have already said, there is no complaint, that Mr. Upham has taken his narrative part, substantially, from the Life by Mr. Sparks. The gravamen is, that he has used the letters of Washington, and inserted, verbatim, copies thereof from the collection of Mr. Sparks. The master finds, by his report, that the whole number of pages in Mr. Upham's work, corresponding and identical with the passages in Mr. Sparks's work, are three hundred and fifty-three pages out of eight hundred and sixty-six, a fraction more than one third of the two volumes of the defendants. Of these three hundred and fifty-three pages, the report finds that three hundred and nineteen pages consist of letters of Washington, which have been taken from Mr. Sparks's work, and have never been published before; namely, sixty-four pages are official letters and documents, and two hundred and fifty-five pages are private letters of Washington. The question, therefore, upon this admitted state of the facts, resolves itself into the point, whether such a use, in the defendants' work, of the letters of Washington, constitutes a piracy of the work of Mr. Sparks. 
It is objected, in the first place, on behalf of the defendants, that the letters of Washington are not, in the sense of the law, proper subjects of copyright, for several reasons: (1) Because they are the manuscripts of a deceased person, not injured by the publication thereof; (2) because they are not literary compositions, and, therefore, not susceptible of being literary property, nor esteemed of value by the author; (3) because they are, in their nature and character, either public or official letters, or private letters of business; and (4) because they were designed by the author for public use, and not for copyright, or private property. Now, in relation to the last objection, it is most manifest, that President Washington deemed them his own private property, and bequeathed them to his nephew, the late Mr. Justice Washington, through whom the late Mr. Chief Justice Marshall and Mr. Sparks acquired an interest therein; and, as appears from the contract between these gentlemen, annexed to the report, the publication of these writings was undertaken by Mr. Sparks, as editor, for their joint benefit; and the work itself has been accomplished at great expense and labor, and after great intellectual efforts, and very patient and comprehensive researches, both at home and abroad. The publication of the defendants, therefore, to some extent, must be injurious to the rights of property of the representatives and assignees of President Washington. Indeed, as we shall presently see, congress have actually purchased these very letters and manuscripts, at a great price, for the benefit of the nation, from their owner and possessor under the will of Mr. Justice Washington, as private and most valuable property. That President Washington, therefore, intended them exclusively for public use, as a donation to the public, or did not esteem them of value as his own private property, appears to me to be a proposition, completely disproved by the evidence. Unless, indeed, there be a most unequivocal dedication of private letters and papers by the author, either to the public, or to some private person, I hold, that the author has a property therein, and that the copyright thereof exclusively belongs to him. Then as to the supposed distinction between letters of business, or of a mere private or domestic character, and letters, which, from their character and contents, are to be treated as literary compositions, I am not prepared to admit its soundness or propriety. It is extremely difficult to say, what letters are or are not literary compositions. In one sense, all letters are literary, for they consist of the thoughts and language of the writer reduced to written characters, and show his style and his mode of constructing sentences, and his habits of composition. Many letters of business also embrace critical remarks and expressions of opinion on various subjects, moral, religious, political and literary. What is to be done in such cases? Even in compositions confessedly literary, the author may not intend, nay, often does not intend them for publication; and yet, no one on that account doubts his right of property therein, as a subject of value to himself and to his posterity. If subsequently published by his representatives, would they not have a copyright therein? It is highly probable, that neither Lord Chesterfield, nor Lord Orford, nor the poet Gray, nor Cowper, nor Lady Russell, nor Lady Montague, ever intended their letters for publication as literary compositions, although they abound with striking remarks, and elegant sketches, and sometimes with the most profound, as well as affecting, exhibitions of close reflection, and various knowledge and experience, mixed up with matters of business, personal anecdote, and family gossip. 
There is no small confusion in the books, in reference to the question of copyright in letters. Some of the dicta seem to suppose that no copyright can exist, except in letters which are professedly literary; while others again recognize a much more enlarged and liberal doctrine. See Gods. Pat. (Ed. 1840, London) pp. 327–“332; Gee v. Pritchard, 2 Swanst. 403, 405, 426, 427; Perceval v. Phipps, 2 Ves. & B. 19, 24, 25, 28. Without attempting to reconcile, or even to comment upon the language of the authorities on this head, I wish to state what I conceive to be the true doctrine upon the whole subject. In the first place, I hold, that the author of any letter or letters, (and his representatives,) whether they are literary compositions, or familiar letters, or letters of business, possess the sole and exclusive copyright therein; and that no persons, neither those to whom they are addressed, nor other persons, have any right or authority to publish the same upon their own account, or for their own benefit. But, consistently with this right, the persons to whom they are addressed, may have, nay, must, by implication, possess, the right to publish any letter or letters addressed to them, upon such occasions, as require, or justify, the publication or public use of them; but this right is strictly limited to such occasions. Gee v. Pritchard, 2 Swanst. 415, 419. Thus, a person may justifiably use and publish, in a suit at law or in equity, such letter or letters as are necessary and proper, to establish his right to maintain the suit, or defend the same. So, if he be aspersed or misrepresented by the writer, or accused of improper conduct, in a public manner, he may publish such parts of such letter or letters, but no more, as may be necessary to vindicate his character and reputation, or free him from unjust obloquy and reproach. If he attempt to publish such letter or letters on other occasions, not justifiable, a court of equity will prevent the publication by an injunction, as a breach of private confidence or contract, or of the rights of the author; and a fortiori, if he attempt to publish them for profit; for then it is not a mere breach of confidence or contract, but it is a violation of the exclusive copyright of the writer. In short, the person, to whom letters are addressed, has but a limited right, or special property, (if I may so call it), in such letters, as a trustee, or bailee, for particular purposes, either of information or of protection, or of support of his own rights and character. The general property, and the general rights incident to property, belong to the writer, whether the letters are literary compositions, or familiar letters, or details of facts, or letters of business. The general property in the manuscripts remains in the writer and his representatives, as well as the general copyright. A fortiori, third persons, standing in no privity with either party, are not entitled to publish them, to subserve their own private purposes of interest, or curiosity, or passion. If the case of Perceval v. Phipps, 2 Ves. & B. 21, 28, before the then vice chancellor (Sir Thomas Plumer), contains a different doctrine, all I can say is, that I do not accede to its authority; and I fall back upon the more intelligible and reasonable doctrine of Lord Hardwicke, in Pope v. Curl, 2 Atk. 342, and Lord Apsley, in the case of Thompson v. Stanhope, Amb. 737, and of Lord Keeper Henley, in the case of Duke of Queensberry v. Sheffeare, 2 Eden, 329 (cited 4 Burrows, 2329), which Lord Eldon has not scrupled to hold to be binding authorities upon the point in Gee v. Pritchard, 2 Swanst. 403, 414, 415, 419, 426, 427. But I do not understand that Sir Thomas Plumer did, in Perceval v. Phipps, deny the right of property of the writer in his own letters; and so he was understood by Lord Eldon in Gee v. Pritchard; who, however, said, that that case admitted of much remark. Indeed, if the doctrine were otherwise, that no person, or his representatives, could have a copyright in his own private or familiar letters, written to friends, upon interesting political and other occasions, or containing details of facts and occurrences, passing before the writer, it would operate as a great discouragement upon the collection and preservation thereof; and the materials of history would become far more scanty, than they otherwise would be. What descendant, or representative of the deceased author, would undertake to publish, at his own risk and expense, any such papers; and what editor would be willing to employ his own learning, and judgment, and researches, in illustrating such works, if, the moment they were successful, and possessed the substantial patronage of the public, a rival bookseller might republish them, either in the same, or in a cheaper form, and thus either share with him, or take from him the whole profits? It is the supposed exclusive copyright in such writings, which now encourages their publication thereof, from time to time, after the author has passed to the grave. To this we owe, not merely, the publication of the writings of Washington, but of Franklin, and Jay, and Jefferson and Madison, and other distinguished statesmen of our own country. It appears to me, that the copyright act of 1831, c. 16, § 9, [4 Stat. 436], fully recognizes the doctrine for which I contend. It gives by implication to the author, or legal proprietor of any manuscript whatever, the sole right to print and publish the same, and expressly authorizes the courts of equity of the United States to grant injunctions to restrain the publication thereof, by any person or persons, without his consent. 
In respect to official letters, addressed to the government, or any of its departments, by public officers, so far as the right of the government extends, from principles of public policy, to withhold them from publication, or to give them publicity, there may be a just ground of distinction. It may be doubtful, whether any public officer is at liberty to publish them, at least, in the same age, when secrecy may be required by the public exigencies, without the sanction of the government. On the other hand, from the nature of the public service, or the character of the documents, embracing historical, military, or diplomatic information, it may be the right, and even the duty, of the government, to give them publicity, even against the will of the writers. But this is an exception in favor of the government, and stands upon principles allied to, or nearly similar to, the rights of private individuals, to whom letters are addressed by their agents, to use them, and publish them, upon fit and justifiable occasions. But assuming the right of the government to publish such official letters and papers, under its own sanction, and for public purposes, I am not prepared to admit, that any private persons have a right to publish the same letters and papers, without the sanction of the government, for their own private profit and advantage. Recently the Duke of Wellington's despatches have (I believe) been published, by an able editor, with the consent of the noble duke, and under the sanction of the government. It would be a strange thing to say, that a compilation involving so much expense, and so much labor to the editor, in collecting and arranging the materials, might be pirated and republished by another bookseller, perhaps to the ruin of the original publisher and editor. Before my mind arrives at such a conclusion, I must have clear and positive lights to guide my judgment, or to bind me in point of authority. However, it is not necessary, in this case, to dispose of this point, because, of the letters and documents published by the defendants, not more than one fifth part are of an official character. 
Another and distinct objection urged on behalf of the defendants, is, that congress have purchased the manuscripts of these letters and documents, and they have become public property, and may be published by any one. An answer, in part, has been already given to this objection. Congress have, indeed, authorized the purchase of these manuscripts from the owner and possessor thereof, and paid the liberal price of 25,000 dollars therefor; and they have thus become national property. But it is an entirely inadmissible conclusion that, therefore, every private person has a right to use them, and publish them. It might be contended, with as much force and correctness, that every private person had an equal right to use any other national property at his pleasure, such as the arms, the ammunition, the ships, or the custom houses, belonging to the government. But a reason, which is entirely conclusive upon this point, is, that the government purchased the manuscripts, subject to the copyright already acquired by the plaintiffs in the publication thereof. The vendor took them subject to that copyright, and could convey no title which he did not himself possess, or beyond what he possessed. Nor is there any pretence to say that he either did convey, or intended to convey, to the government, the property in these manuscripts, except subject to the copyright already acquired. 
The next and leading objection is, that the defendants had a right to abridge and select, and use the materials which they have taken for their work, which, though it embraces the number of letters above stated, is an original and new work, and that it constitutes, in no just sense, a piracy of the work of the plaintiffs. This, in truth, is the real hinge of the whole controversy, and involves the entire merits of the suit. It is certainly true, that the defendants' work cannot properly be treated as an abridgment of that of the plaintiffs; neither is it strictly and wholly a mere compilation from the latter. So far as the narrative goes, it is either original, or derived (at least as far as the matter has been brought before the court) from common sources of information, open to all authors. It is not even of the nature of a collection of beauties of an author; for it does not profess to give fugitive extracts, or brilliant passages from particular letters. It is a selection of the entire contents of particular letters, from the whole collection or mass of letters of the work of the plaintiffs. From the known taste and ability of Mr. Upham, it cannot be doubted, that these letters are the most instructive, useful and interesting to be found in that large collection. 
The question, then, is, whether this is a justifiable use of the original materials, such as the law recognizes as no infringement of the copyright of the plaintiffs. It is said, that the defendant has selected only such materials, as suited his own limited purpose as a biographer. That is, doubtless, true; and he has produced an exceedingly valuable book. But that is no answer to the difficulty. It is certainly not necessary, to constitute an invasion of copyright, that the whole of a work should be copied, or even a large portion of it, in form or in substance. If so much is taken, that the value of the original is sensibly diminished, or the labors of the original author are substantially to an injurious extent appropriated by another, that is sufficient, in point of law, to constitute a piracy pro tanto. The entirety of the copyright is the property of the author; and it is no defence, that another person has appropriated a part, and not the whole, of any property. Neither does it necessarily depend upon the quantity taken, whether it is an infringement of the copyright or not. It is often affected by other considerations, the value of the materials taken, and the importance of it to the sale of the original work. Lord Cottenham, in the recent cases of Bramwell v. Halcomb, 3 Mylne & C. 737, 738, and Saunders v. Smith, Id. 711, 736, 737, adverting to this point, said: ‘When it comes to a question of quantity, it must be very vague. One writer might take all the vital part of another's book, though it might be but a small proportion of the book in quantity. It is not only quantity, but value, that is always looked to. It is useless to refer to any particular cases, as to quantity.’ In short, we must often, in deciding questions of this sort, look to the nature and objects of the selections made, the quantity and value of the materials used, and the degree in which the use may prejudice the sale, or diminish the profits, or supersede the objects, of the original work. Many mixed ingredients enter into the discussion of such questions. In some cases, a considerable portion of the materials of the original work may be fused, if I may use such an expression, into another work, so as to be undistinguishable in the mass of the latter, which has other professed and obvious objects, and cannot fairly be treated as a piracy; or they may be inserted as a sort of distinct and mosaic work, into the general texture of the second work, and constitute the peculiar excellence thereof, and then it may be a clear piracy. If a person should, under color of publishing ‘Elegant Extracts' of poetry, include all the best pieces at large of a favorite poet, whose volume was secured by a copyright, it would be difficult to say why it was not an invasion of that right, since it might constitute the entire value of the volume. The case of Mawman v. Tegg, 2 Russ. 385, is to this purpose. There was no pretence in that case, that all the articles of the encyclopedia of the plaintiffs had been copied into that of the defendants; but large portions of the materials of the plaintiffs' work had been copied. Lord Eldon, upon that occasion, held, that there might be a piracy of part of a work, which would entitle the plaintiffs to a full remedy and relief in equity. In prior cases, he had affirmed the like doctrine. In Wilkins v. Aikin, 17 Ves. 422, 424, he said: ‘There is no doubt, that a man cannot, under the pretence of quotation, publish either the whole or a part of another's book, though he may use, what in all cases it is difficult to define, fair quotation.’ In Roworth v. Wilkes, 1 Camp. 94, Lord Ellenborough said: ‘A review will not, in general, serve as a substitute for the book reviewed; and even there, if so much is extracted, that it communicates the same knowledge with the original work, it is an actionable violation of literary property. The intention to pirate is not necessary in an action of this sort; it is enough, that the publication complained of is in substance a copy, whereby a work vested in another is prejudiced. A compilation of this kind (an encyclopedia) may differ from a treatise published by itself; but there must be certain limits fixed to its transcripts; it must not be allowed to sweep up all modern works, or an encyclopedia would be a recipe for completely breaking down literary property.’ The vice chancellor (Sir L. Shadwell), in Sweet v. Shaw, 1 Jur. (London) 212 [3 Jur. 217], referring to the remarks of Lord Ellenborough, cited by counsel, said: ‘That does not mean a substitute for the whole work. From what you state, suppose a book to contain one hundred articles, and ninety-nine were taken, still it would not be a substitute.’ And in this very case he granted an injunction, being of opinion, that there was primp̂rima facie, at law, an invasion of the plaintiffs' right; not only an injury, but also a damage to the plaintiffs, in copying from several volumes of Reports, published by the plaintiffs, although eleven only had been copied verbatim, but a considerable number of what were called ‘abridged cases,’ were, in truth, copies of the plaintiffs' volumes, with little, or trifling, alterations. It is manifest, also, from what fell from Lord Chancellor Cottenham, in Saunders v. Smith, 3 Mylne & C. 711, that he entertained no doubt, (although he did not decide the point,) that there might be a violation of the copyright of volumes of Reports, by copying verbatim a part only of the cases reported. Much must, in such cases, depend upon the nature of the new work, the value and extent of the copies, and the degree in which the original authors may be injured thereby. In Lewis v. Fullarton, 2 Jur. (London) 127 [3 Jur. 669], 2 Beav. 6, Lord Langdale, in the case of a topographical dictionary, held, that largely copying from the work in another book having a similar object, was a violation of that copyright, although the same information might have been (but, in fact, was not) obtained from common sources, open to all persons. On that occasion, he said: ‘None are entitled to save themselves trouble and expense, by availing themselves, for their own profit, of other men's works, still entitled to the protection of copyright;’ and, accordingly, in that case, he granted an injunction as to the parts pirated, although it was admitted, on all hands, that there was much which was original in the new work. 
In the present case, I have no doubt whatever, that there is an invasion of the plaintiffs' copyright; I do not say designedly, or from bad intentions; on the contrary, I entertain no doubt, that it was deemed a perfectly lawful and justifiable use of the plaintiffs' work. But if the defendants may take three hundred and nineteen letters, included in the plaintiffs' copyright, and exclusively belonging to them, there is no reason why another bookseller may not take other five hundred letters, and a third, one thousand letters, and so on, and thereby the plaintiffs' copyright be totally destroyed. Besides; every one must see, that the work of the defendants is mainly founded upon these letters, constituting more than one third of their work, and imparting to it its greatest, nay, its essential value. Without those letters, in its present form the work must fall to the ground. It is not a case, where abbreviated or select passages are taken from particular letters; but the entire letters are taken, and those of most interest and value to the public, as illustrating the life, the acts, and the character of Washington. It seems to me, therefore, that it is a clear invasion of the right of property of the plaintiffs, if the copying of parts of a work, not constituting a major part, can ever be a violation thereof; as upon principle and authority, I have no doubt it may be. If it had been the case of a fair and bona fide abridgment of the work of the plaintiffs, it might have admitted of a very different consideration. 
I have come to this conclusion, not without some regret, that it may interfere, in some measure, with the very meritorious labors of the defendants, in their great undertaking of a series of works adapted to school libraries. But a judge is entitled in this case, as in others, only to know and to act upon his duty. I hope, however, that some means may be found, to produce an amicable settlement of this unhappy controversy. The report of the master must stand confirmed, and a perpetual injunction be awarded, restraining the defendants, their agents, servants and salesmen, from farther printing, publishing, selling, or disposing of any copy or copies of the work complained of; the ‘Life of Washington,’ by the Rev. Charles W. Upham, containing any of the three hundred and nineteen letters of Washington, stated in the report of the master, and never before published; and that it be referred to a master, to take an account of the profits made by the defendants, in the premises; with leave for either party to apply to the court for farther directions.

Jared Sparks (1849 – 1853)

Rev. Charles W. Upham (1802 – 1875)


  1. Which elements of Sparks's work did Upham copy? Which of those are protected by copyright?
  2. Judge Story states: "In short, we must often, in deciding questions of this sort, look to the nature and objects of the selections made, the quantity and value of the materials used, and the degree in which the use may prejudice the sale, or diminish the profits, or supersede the objects, of the original work. Many mixed ingredients enter into the discussion of such questions. In some cases, a considerable portion of the materials of the original work may be fused, if I may use such an expression, into another work, so as to be undistinguishable in the mass of the latter, which has other professed and obvious objects, and cannot fairly be treated as a piracy; or they may be inserted as a sort of distinct and mosaic work, into the general texture of the second work, and constitute the peculiar excellence thereof, and then it may be a clear piracy." Do you agree?
  3. Do you agree with Story's conclusion that Upham infringed Sparks's work?

The Codification of the Fair Use Doctrine

Prior to the Copyright Act of 1976, the fair use was a common law doctrine developed by the courts, generally along the lines established by Judge Story in Folsom v. Marsh. But then Congress codified the fair use doctrine in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, which provides:
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include— 
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work; 
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
17 U.S.C. § 107.

Section 107 was intended to codify the common law fair use doctrine developed by the courts, and to enable the courts to continue developing that doctrine. As Congress explained:
General background of the problem 
The judicial doctrine of fair use, one of the most important and well-established limitations on the exclusive right of copyright owners, would be given express statutory recognition for the first time in section 107. The claim that a defendant’s acts constituted a fair use rather than an infringement has been raised as a defense in innumerable copyright actions over the years, and there is ample case law recognizing the existence of the doctrine and applying it. The examples enumerated at page 24 of the Register’s 1961 Report, while by no means exhaustive, give some idea of the sort of activities the courts might regard as fair use under the circumstances: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.” 
Although the courts have considered and ruled upon the fair use doctrine over and over again, no real definition of the concept has ever emerged. Indeed, since the doctrine is an equitable rule of reason, no generally applicable definition is possible, and each case raising the question must be decided on its own facts. On the other hand, the courts have evolved a set of criteria which, though in no case definitive or determinative, provide some guage for balancing the equities. These criteria have been stated in various ways, but essentially they can all be reduced to the four standards which have been adopted in section 107: “(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” 
These criteria are relevant in determining whether the basic doctrine of fair use, as stated in the first sentence of section 107, applies in a particular case: “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”
The specific wording of section 107 as it now stands is the result of a process of accretion, resulting from the long controversy over the related problems of fair use and the reproduction (mostly by photocopying) of copyrighted material for educational and scholarly purposes. For example, the reference to fair use “by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means” is mainly intended to make clear that the doctrine has as much application to photocopying and taping as to older forms of use; it is not intended to give these kinds of reproduction any special status under the fair use provision or to sanction any reproduction beyond the normal and reasonable limits of fair use. 
Similarly, the newly-added reference to “multiple copies for classroom use” is a recognition that, under the proper circumstances of fairness, the doctrine can be applied to reproductions of multiple copies for the members of a class. 
The Committee has amended the first of the criteria to be considered—“the purpose and character of the use”—to state explicitly that this factor includes a consideration of “whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes.” This amendment is not intended to be interpreted as any sort of not-for-profit limitation on educational uses of copyrighted works. It is an express recognition that, as under the present law, the commercial or non-profit character of an activity, while not conclusive with respect to fair use, can and should be weighed along with other factors in fair use decisions. 
General intention behind the provision 
The statement of the fair use doctrine in section 107 offers some guidance to users in determining when the principles of the doctrine apply. However, the endless variety of situations and combinations of circumstances that can rise in particular cases precludes the formulation of exact rules in the statute. The bill endorses the purpose and general scope of the judicial doctrine of fair use, but there is no disposition to freeze the doctrine in the statute, especially during a period of rapid technological change. Beyond a very broad statutory explanation of what fair use is and some of the criteria applicable to it, their courts must be free to adapt the doctrine to particular situations on a case-by-case basis. Section 107 is intended to restate the present judicial doctrine of fair use, not to change, narrow, or enlarge it in any way.
H.R. Rep. No 94-1476, at 65-66 (1976).


  1. How does the fair use doctrine codified in Section 106 differ from the fair use doctrine described in Folsom?
  2. Why did Congress decide to codify the fair use doctrine?
  3. Congress stated that Section 107 was not intended to change the common law fair use doctrine. Do you think the language of the fair use doctrine codified in Section 107 is consistent with the fair use doctrine described in Folsom? Is it possible to codify a common law doctrine without changing that doctrine?

The Four Fair Use Factors

Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides that courts evaluating a fair use defense "shall" consider four factors:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
17 U.S.C. § 107.

As with any multi-factor test, fair use presents questions about the scope of each factor and how to weigh the factors against each other. In addition, the fair use factors are relatively broadly worded, leaving a great deal of uncertainty as to their meaning.

Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994)
Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court. 
In 1964, Roy Orbison and William Dees wrote a rock ballad called "Oh, Pretty Woman" and assigned their rights in it to respondent Acuff Rose Music, Inc. See Appendix A, infra, at 26. Acuff Rose registered the song for copyright protection. 
Petitioners Luther R. Campbell, Christopher Wongwon, Mark Ross, and David Hobbs, are collectively known as2 Live Crew, a popular rap music group. In 1989, Campbell wrote a song entitled "Pretty Woman," which he later described in an affidavit as intended, "through comical lyrics, to satirize the original work . . . ." App. to Pet. for Cert. 80a. On July 5, 1989, 2 Live Crew's manager informed Acuff Rose that 2 Live Crew had written a parody of "Oh, Pretty Woman," that they would afford all credit for ownership and authorship of the original song to Acuff Rose, Dees, and Orbison, and that they were willing to pay a fee for the use they wished to make of it. Enclosed with the letter were a copy of the lyrics and a recording of 2 Live Crew's song. See Appendix B, infra, at 27. 
Acuff Rose's agent refused permission, stating that "I am aware of the success enjoyed by 'The 2 Live Crews', but I must inform you that we cannot permit the use of a parody of 'Oh, Pretty Woman.' " App. to Pet. for Cert. 85a. Nonetheless, in June or July 1989, 2 Live Crew released records, cassette tapes, and compact discs of "Pretty Woman" in a collection of songs entitled "As Clean As They Wanna Be." The albums and compact discs identify the authors of "Pretty Woman" as Orbison and Dees and its publisher as Acuff Rose. 
Almost a year later, after nearly a quarter of a millioncopies of the recording had been sold, Acuff Rose sued 2 Live Crew and its record company, Luke Skyywalker Records, for copyright infringement. The District Court granted summary judgment for 2 Live Crew, reasoning that the commercial purpose of 2 Live Crew's song was no bar to fair use; that 2 Live Crew's version was a parody, which "quickly degenerates into a play on words, substituting predictable lyrics with shocking ones" to show "how bland and banal the Orbison song" is; that 2 Live Crew had taken no more than was necessary to "conjure up" the original in order to parody it; and that it was "extremely unlikely that 2 Live Crew's song could adversely affect the market for the original." 754 F. Supp. 1150, 1154-1155, 1157-1158 (MD Tenn. 1991). The District Court weighed these factors and held that 2 Live Crew's song made fair use of Orbison's original. Id., at 1158-1159. 
The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded. 972 F. 2d 1429, 1439 (1992). Although it assumed for the purpose of its opinion that 2 Live Crew's song was a parody of the Orbison original, the Court of Appeals thought the District Court had put too little emphasis on the fact that "every commercial use . . . is presumptively . . . unfair," Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 451 (1984), and it held that "the admittedly commercial nature" of the parody "requires the conclusion" that the first of four factors relevant under the statute weighs against a finding of fair use. 972 F. 2d, at 1435, 1437. Next, the Court of Appeals determined that, by "taking the heart of the original and making it the heart of a new work," 2 Live Crew had, qualitatively, taken too much. Id., at 1438. Finally, after noting that the effecton the potential market for the original (and the market for derivative works) is "undoubtedly the single most important element of fair use," Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 566 (1985), the Court of Appeals faulted the District Court for "refus[ing] to indulge the presumption" that "harm for purposes of the fair use analysis has been established by the presumption attaching to commercial uses." 972 F. 2d, at 1438-1439. In sum, the court concluded that its "blatantly commercial purpose . . . prevents this parody from being a fair use." Id., at 1439. 
We granted certiorari, 507 U. S. ___ (1993), to determine whether 2 Live Crew's commercial parody could be a fair use. 
It is uncontested here that 2 Live Crew's song would be an infringement of Acuff Rose's rights in "Oh, Pretty Woman," under the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 106 (1988 ed. and Supp. IV), but for a finding of fair use through parody. From the infancy of copyright protection, some opportunity for fair use of copyrighted materials has been thought necessary to fulfill copyright's very purpose, "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts . . . ." U. S. Const., Art. I, § 8, cl. 8. For as Justice Story explained, "[i]n truth, in literature, in science and in art, there are, and can be, few, if any, things, which in an abstract sense, are strictly new and original throughout. Every book in literature, science and art, borrows, and must necessarily borrow, and use much which was well known and used before." Emerson v. Davies, 8 F. Cas. 615, 619 (No. 4,436) (CCD Mass. 1845). 
Similarly, Lord Ellenborough expressed the inherent tension in the need simultaneously to protect copyrighted material and to allow others to build upon it when he wrote, "while I shall think myself bound to secure every man in the enjoyment of his copy right, one must not put manacles upon science." Carey v. Kearsley, 4 Esp. 168, 170, 170 Eng. Rep. 679, 681 (K.B. 1803). In copyright cases brought under the Statute of Anne of 1710, English courts held that in some instances "fair abridgements" would not infringe an author's rights, see W. Patry, The Fair Use Privilege in Copyright Law 6-17 (1985) (hereinafter Patry); Leval, Toward a Fair Use Standard, 103 Harv. L. Rev. 1105, 1105 (1990) (hereinafter Leval),and although the First Congress enacted our initial copyright statute, Act of May 31, 1790, 1 Stat. 124, without any explicit reference to "fair use," as it later came to be known, the doctrine was recognized by the American courts nonetheless. 
In Folsom v. Marsh, Justice Story distilled the essence of law and methodology from the earlier cases: "look to the nature and objects of the selections made, the quantity and value of the materials used, and the degree in which the use may prejudice the sale, or diminish the profits, or supersede the objects, of the original work." 9 F. Cas. 342, 348 (No. 4,901) (CCD Mass. 1841). Thus expressed, fair use remained exclusively judge made doctrine until the passage of the 1976 Copyright Act, in which Story's summary is discernible: 
"§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use 
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include-- 
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work; 
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portionused in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. 
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors." 17 U.S.C. § 107 (1988 ed. and Supp. IV). 
Congress meant § 107 "to restate the present judicial doctrine of fair use, not to change, narrow, or enlarge it in any way" and intended that courts continue the common law tradition of fair use adjudication. H. R. Rep. No. 94-1476, p. 66 (1976) (hereinafter House Report); S. Rep. No. 94-473, p. 62 (1975) (hereinafter Senate Report). The fair use doctrine thus "permits [and requires] courts to avoid rigid application of the copyright statute when, on occasion, it would stifle the very creativity which that law is designed to foster." Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 236 (1990) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 
The task is not to be simplified with bright line rules, for the statute, like the doctrine it recognizes, calls for case by case analysis. Harper & Row, 471 U. S., at 560; Sony, 464 U. S., at 448, and n. 31; House Report, pp. 65-66; Senate Report, p. 62. The text employs the terms "including" and "such as" in the preamble paragraph to indicate the "illustrative and not limitative" function of the examples given, § 101; see Harper & Row, supra, at 561, which thus provide only general guidance about the sorts of copying that courts and Congress most commonly had found to be fair uses. Nor may the four statutory factors be treated in isolation, one from another. All are to be explored, and the results weighed together, in light of the purposes of copyright. See Leval 1110-1111; Patry & Perlmutter, Fair Use Misconstrued: Profit, Presumptions, and Parody, 11 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L. J. 667, 685-687 (1993) (hereinafter Patry & Perlmutter). 
The first factor in a fair use enquiry is "the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes." § 107(1). This factor draws on Justice Story's formulation, "the nature and objects of the selections made." Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F. Cas., at 348. The enquiry here may be guided by the examples given in the preamble to § 107, looking to whether the use is for criticism, or comment, or news reporting, and the like, see § 107. The central purpose of this investigation is to see, in Justice Story's words, whether the new workmerely "supersede[s] the objects" of the original creation, Folsom v. Marsh, supra, at 348; accord, Harper & Row, supra, at 562 ("supplanting" the original), or instead adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning, or message; it asks, in other words, whether and to what extent the new work is "transformative." Leval 1111. Although such transformative use is not absolutely necessary for a finding of fair use, Sony, supra, at 455, n. 40, the goal of copyright, to promote science and the arts, is generally furthered by the creation of transformative works. Such works thus lie at the heart of the fair use doctrine's guarantee of breathing space within the confines of copyright, see, e.g., Sony, supra, at 478-480 (Blackmun, J., dissenting), and the more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, like commercialism, that may weigh against a finding of fair use. 
This Court has only once before even considered whether parody may be fair use, and that time issued no opinion because of the Court's equal division. Benny v. Loew's Inc., 239 F. 2d 532 (CA9 1956), aff'd sub nom. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Loew's Inc., 356 U.S. 43 (1958). Suffice it to say now that parody has an obvious claim to transformative value, as Acuff Rose itself does not deny. Like less ostensibly humorous forms of criticism, it can provide social benefit, by shedding light on an earlier work, and, in the process, creating a new one. We thus line up with the courts that have held that parody, like other comment or criticism, may claim fair use under § 107. See, e.g., Fisher v. Dees, 794 F. 2d 432 (CA9 1986) ("When Sonny Sniffs Glue," a parody of "When Sunny Gets Blue," is fair use); Elsmere Music, Inc. v. National Broadcasting Co., 482 F. Supp. 741 (SDNY), aff'd, 623 F. 2d 252 (CA2 1980) ("I Love Sodom," a "Saturday Night Live" television parody of "I Love New York" is fair use); see also House Report, p. 65; Senate Report, p. 61 ("[U]se in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied" may be fair use). 
The germ of parody lies in the definition of the Greek parodeia, quoted in Judge Nelson's Court of Appeals dissent, as "a song sung alongside another." 972 F. 2d, at 1440, quoting 7 Encyclopedia Britannica 768 (15th ed. 1975). Modern dictionaries accordingly describe a parody as a "literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule," or as a "composition in prose or verse in which the characteristic turns of thought and phrase in an author or class of authors are imitated in such a way as to make them appear ridiculous." For the purposes of copyright law, the nub of the definitions, and the heart of any parodist's claim to quote from existing material, is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works. See, e.g., Fisher v. Dees, supra, at 437; MCA, Inc. v. Wilson, 677 F. 2d 180, 185 (CA2 1981). If, on the contrary, the commentary has no critical bearing on the substance or style of the original composition, which the alleged infringer merely uses to get attention or to avoid the drudgery in working up something fresh, the claim to fairness in borrowing from another's work diminishes accordingly (if it does not vanish), and other factors, like the extent of its commerciality, loom larger. Parody needs to mimic an original to make its point, and so has some claim to use the creation of its victim's (or collective victims') imagination, whereas satire can stand on its own two feet and so requires justification for the very act of borrowing. See Ibid.; Bisceglia, Parody and Copyright Protection: Turning the Balancing Act Into a Juggling Act, in ASCAP, Copyright Law Symposium, No. 34, p. 25 (1987). 
The fact that parody can claim legitimacy for some appropriation does not, of course, tell either parodist or judge much about where to draw the line. Like a book review quoting the copyrighted material criticized, parody may or may not be fair use, and petitioner's suggestion that any parodic use is presumptively fair has no more justification in law or fact than the equally hopeful claim that any use for news reporting should be presumed fair, see Harper & Row, 471 U. S., at 561. The Act has no hint of an evidentiary preference for parodists over their victims, and no workable presumption for parody could take account of the fact that parody often shades into satire when society is lampooned through its creative artifacts, or that a work may contain both parodic and non parodic elements. Accordingly, parody, like any other use, has to work its way through the relevant factors, and be judged case by case, in light of the ends of the copyright law. 
Here, the District Court held, and the Court of Appeals assumed, that 2 Live Crew's "Pretty Woman" contains parody, commenting on and criticizing the original work, whatever it may have to say about society at large. As the District Court remarked, the words of 2 Live Crew's song copy the original's first line, but then "quickly degenerat[e] into a play on words, substituting predictable lyrics with shocking ones . . . [that] derisively demonstrat[e] how bland and banal the Orbison song seems to them." 754 F. Supp., at 1155 (footnote omitted). Judge Nelson, dissenting below, came to the same conclusion, that the 2 Live Crew song "was clearly intended to ridicule the white bread original" and "reminds us that sexual congress with nameless streetwalkers is not necessarily the stuff of romance and is not necessarily without its consequences. The singers (there are several) have the same thing on their minds as did the lonely man with the nasal voice, but here there is no hint of wine and roses." 972 F. 2d, at 1442. Although the majority below had difficulty discerning any criticism of the original in 2 Live Crew's song, it assumed for purposes of its opinion that there was some. Id., at 1435-1436, and n. 8. 
We have less difficulty in finding that critical element in 2 Live Crew's song than the Court of Appeals did, although having found it we will not take the further step of evaluating its quality. The threshold question when fair use is raised in defense of parody is whether a parodic character may reasonably be perceived. Whether, going beyond that, parody is in good taste or bad does not and should not matter to fair use. As Justice Holmes explained, "[i]t would be a dangerous undertaking for persons trained only to the law to constitute themselves final judges of the worth of [a work], outside of the narrowest and most obvious limits. At the one extreme some works of genius would be sure to miss appreciation. Their very novelty would make them repulsive until the public had learned the new language in which their author spoke." Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Co., 188 U.S. 239, 251 (1903) (circus posters have copyright protection); cf. Yankee Publishing Inc. v. News America Publishing, Inc., 809 F. Supp. 267, 280 (SDNY 1992) (Leval, J.) ("First Amendment protections do not apply only to those who speak clearly, whose jokes are funny, and whose parodies succeed") (trademark case). 
While we might not assign a high rank to the parodic element here, we think it fair to say that 2 Live Crew's song reasonably could be perceived as commenting on the original or criticizing it, to some degree. 2 Live Crew juxtaposes the romantic musings of a man whose fantasy comes true, with degrading taunts, a bawdy demand for sex, and a sigh of relief from paternal responsibility. The later words can be taken as a comment on the naivete of the original of an earlier day, as a rejection of its sentiment that ignores the ugliness of street life and the debasement that it signifies. It is this joinder of reference and ridicule that marks off the author's choice of parody from the other types of comment and criticism that traditionally have had aclaim to fair use protection as transformative works. 
The Court of Appeals, however, immediately cut short the enquiry into 2 Live Crew's fair use claim by confining its treatment of the first factor essentially to one relevant fact, the commercial nature of the use. The court then inflated the significance of this fact by applying a presumption ostensibly culled from Sony, that "every commercial use of copyrighted material is presumptively . . . unfair . . . ." Sony, 464 U. S., at 451. In giving virtually dispositive weight to the commercial nature of the parody, the Court of Appeals erred. 
The language of the statute makes clear that the commercial or nonprofit educational purpose of a work is only one element of the first factor enquiry into its purpose and character. Section 107(1) uses the term "including" to begin the dependent clause referring to commercial use, and the main clause speaks of a broader investigation into "purpose and character." As we explained in Harper & Row, Congress resisted attempts to narrow the ambit of this traditional enquiry by adopting categories of presumptively fair use, and it urged courts to preserve the breadth of their traditionally ample view of the universe of relevant evidence. 471 U. S., at 561; House Report, p. 66. Accordingly, the mere fact that a use is educational and not for profit does not insulate it from a finding of infringement, any more than the commercial character of a use bars a finding of fairness. If, indeed, commerciality carried presumptive force against a finding of fairness, the presumption would swallow nearly all of the illustrativeuses listed in the preamble paragraph of § 107, including news reporting, comment, criticism, teaching, scholarship, and research, since these activities "are generally conducted for profit in this country." Harper & Row, supra, at 592 (Brennan, J., dissenting). Congress could not have intended such a rule, which certainly is not inferable from the common law cases, arising as they did from the world of letters in which Samuel Johnson could pronounce that "[n]o man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." 3 Boswell's Life of Johnson 19 (G. Hill ed. 1934). 
Sony itself called for no hard evidentiary presumption. There, we emphasized the need for a "sensitive balancing of interests," 464 U. S., at 455, n. 40, noted that Congress had "eschewed a rigid, bright line approach to fair use," id., at 449, n. 31, and stated that the commercial or nonprofit educational character of a work is "not conclusive," id., at 448-449, but rather a fact to be "weighed along with other[s] in fair use decisions." Id., at 449, n. 32 (quoting House Report, p. 66). The Court of Appeals's elevation of one sentence from Sony to a per se rule thus runs as much counter to Sony itself as to the long common law tradition of fair use adjudication. Rather, as we explained in Harper & Row, Sony stands for the proposition that the "fact that a publication was commercial as opposed to nonprofit is a separate factor that tends to weigh against a finding of fair use." 471 U. S., at 562. But that is all, and the fact that even the force of that tendency will vary with the context is a further reason against elevating commerciality to hard presumptive significance. The use, for example, of a copyrighted work to advertise a product, even in a parody, will be entitled to less indulgence under the first factor of the fair use enquiry, than the sale of a parody for its own sake, let alone one performed a single time by students in school. See generally Patry & Perlmutter 679-680; Fisher v. Dees, 794 F. 2d, at 437; Maxtone Graham v. Burtchaell, 803 F. 2d 1253, 1262 (CA2 1986); Sega Enterprises Ltd. v. Accolade, Inc., 977 F. 2d 1510, 1522 (CA9 1992). 
The second statutory factor, "the nature of the copyrighted work," § 107(2), draws on Justice Story's expression, the "value of the materials used." Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F. Cas., at 348. This factor calls for recognition that some works are closer to the core of intended copyright protection than others, with the consequence that fair use is more difficult to establish when the former works are copied. See, e.g., Stewart v. Abend, 495 U. S., at 237-238 (contrasting fictional short story with factual works); Harper & Row, 471 U. S., at 563-564 (contrasting soon to be published memoir with published speech); Sony, 464 U. S., at 455, n. 40 (contrasting motion pictures with news broadcasts); Feist, 499 U. S., 348-351 (contrasting creative works with bare factual compilations); 3 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 13.05[A][2] (1993) (hereinafter Nimmer); Leval 1116. 
We agree with both the District Court and the Court of Appeals that the Orbison original's creative expression for public dissemination falls within the core of the copyright's protective purposes. 754 F. Supp., at 1155-1156; 972 F. 2d, at 1437. This fact, however, is not much help in this case, or ever likely to help much in separating the fair use sheep from the infringing goats in a parody case, since parodies almost invariably copy publicly known, expressive works. 
The third factor asks whether "the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole," § 107(3) (or, in Justice Story's words, "the quantity and value of the materials used," Folsom v. Marsh, supra, at 348) are reasonable in relation to the purpose of the copying. Here, attention turns to the persuasiveness of a parodist's justification for the particular copying done, and the enquiry will harken back to the first of the statutory factors, for, as in prior cases, we recognize that the extent of permissible copying varies with the purpose and character of the use. See Sony, 464 U. S., at 449-450 (reproduction of entire work "does not have its ordinary effect of militating against a finding of fair use" as to home videotaping of television programs); Harper & Row, 471 U. S., at 564 ("[E]ven substantial quotations might qualify as fair use in a review of a published work or a news account of a speech" but not in a scoop of a soon to be published memoir). The facts bearing on this factor will also tend to address the fourth, by revealing the degree to which the parody may serve as a market substitute for the original or potentially licensed derivatives. See Leval 1123. 
The District Court considered the song's parodic purpose in finding that 2 Live Crew had not helped themselves overmuch. 754 F. Supp., at 1156-1157. The Court of Appeals disagreed, stating that "[w]hile it may not be inappropriate to find that no more was takenthan necessary, the copying was qualitatively substantial. . . . We conclude that taking the heart of the original and making it the heart of a new work was to purloin a substantial portion of the essence of the original." 972 F. 2d, at 1438. 
The Court of Appeals is of course correct that this factor calls for thought not only about the quantity of the materials used, but about their quality and importance, too. In Harper & Row, for example, the Nation had taken only some 300 words out of President Ford's memoirs, but we signalled the significance of the quotations in finding them to amount to "the heart of the book," the part most likely to be newsworthy and important in licensing serialization. 471 U. S., at 564-566, 568 (internal quotation marks omitted). We also agree with the Court of Appeals that whether "a substantial portion of the infringing work was copied verbatim" from the copyrighted work is a relevant question, see id., at 565, for it may reveal a dearth of transformative character or purpose under the first factor, or a greater likelihood of market harm under the fourth; a work composed primarily of an original, particularly its heart, with little added or changed, is more likely to be a merely superseding use, fulfilling demand for the original. 
Where we part company with the court below is in applying these guides to parody, and in particular to parody in the song before us. Parody presents a difficult case. Parody's humor, or in any event its comment, necessarily springs from recognizable allusion to its object through distorted imitation. Its art lies in the tension between a known original and its parodic twin. When parody takes aim at a particular original work, the parody must be able to "conjure up" at least enough of that original to make the object of its critical wit recognizable. See, e.g., Elsmere Music, 623 F. 2d, at 253, n. 1; Fisher v. Dees, 794 F. 2d, at 438-439. What makes for this recognition is quotation of the original's most distinctive or memorable features, which the parodist can be sure the audience will know. Once enough has been taken to assure identification, how much more is reasonable will depend, say, on the extent to which the song's overriding purpose and character is to parody the original or, in contrast, the likelihood that the parody may serve as a market substitute for the original. But using some characteristic features cannot be avoided. 
We think the Court of Appeals was insufficiently appreciative of parody's need for the recognizable sight or sound when it ruled 2 Live Crew's use unreasonable as a matter of law. It is true, of course, that 2 Live Crew copied the characteristic opening bass riff (or musical phrase) of the original, and true that the words of the first line copy the Orbison lyrics. But if quotation of the opening riff and the first line may be said to go to the "heart" of the original, the heart is also what most readily conjures up the song for parody, and it is the heart at which parody takes aim. Copying does not become excessive in relation to parodic purpose merely because the portion taken was the original's heart. If 2 Live Crew had copied a significantly less memorable part of the original, it is difficult to see how its parodic character would have come through. See Fisher v. Dees, 794 F. 2d, at 439. 
This is not, of course, to say that anyone who calls himself a parodist can skim the cream and get away scot free. In parody, as in news reporting, see Harper & Row, supra, context is everything, and the question of fairness asks what else the parodist did besides go to the heart of the original. It is significant that 2 Live Crew not only copied the first line of the original, but thereafter departed markedly from the Orbison lyrics for its own ends. 2 Live Crew not only copied the bass riffand repeated it, but also produced otherwise distinctive sounds, interposing "scraper" noise, overlaying the music with solos in different keys, and altering the drum beat. See 754 F. Supp., at 1155. This is not a case, then, where "a substantial portion" of the parody itself is composed of a "verbatim" copying of the original. It is not, that is, a case where the parody is so insubstantial, as compared to the copying, that the third factor must be resolved as a matter of law against the parodists. 
Suffice it to say here that, as to the lyrics, we think the Court of Appeals correctly suggested that "no more was taken than necessary," 972 F. 2d, at 1438, but just for that reason, we fail to see how the copying can be excessive in relation to its parodic purpose, even if the portion taken is the original's "heart." As to the music, we express no opinion whether repetition of the bass riff is excessive copying, and we remand to permit evaluation of the amount taken, in light of the song's parodic purpose and character, its transformative elements, and considerations of the potential for market substitution sketched more fully below. 
The fourth fair use factor is "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." § 107(4). It requires courts to consider not only the extent of market harm caused by the particular actions of the alleged infringer, but also "whether unrestricted and widespread conduct of the sort engaged in by the defendant . . . would result in a substantially adverse impact on the potential market" for the original. Nimmer § 13.05[A][4], p. 13-102.61 (footnote omitted); accord Harper & Row, 471 U. S., at 569; Senate Report, p. 65; Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F. Cas., at 349. The enquiry "must take account not only of harm to the original but also of harm to the market for derivative works." Harper & Row, supra, at 568. 
Since fair use is an affirmative defense, its proponent would have difficulty carrying the burden of demonstrating fair use without favorable evidence about relevant markets. In moving for summary judgment, 2 Live Crew left themselves at just such a disadvantage when they failed to address the effect on the market for rap derivatives, and confined themselves to uncontroverted submissions that there was no likely effect on the market for the original. They did not, however, thereby subject themselves to the evidentiary presumption applied by the Court of Appeals. In assessing the likelihood of significant market harm, the Court of Appeals quoted from language in Sony that "'[i]f the intended use is for commercial gain, that likelihood may be presumed. But if it is for a noncommercial purpose, the likelihood must be demonstrated.'" 972 F. 2d, at 1438, quoting Sony, 464 U. S., at 451. The court reasoned that because "the use of the copyrighted work is wholly commercial, . . . we presume a likelihood offuture harm to Acuff Rose exists." 972 F. 2d, at 1438. In so doing, the court resolved the fourth factor against 2 Live Crew, just as it had the first, by applying a presumption about the effect of commercial use, a presumption which as applied here we hold to be error. 
No "presumption" or inference of market harm that might find support in Sony is applicable to a case involving something beyond mere duplication for commercial purposes. Sony's discussion of a presumption contrasts a context of verbatim copying of the original in its entirety for commercial purposes, with the non commercial context of Sony itself (home copying of television programming). In the former circumstances, what Sony said simply makes common sense: when a commercial use amounts to mere duplication of the entirety of an original, it clearly "supersede[s] the objects," Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F. Cas., at 348, of the original and serves as a market replacement for it, making it likely that cognizable market harm to the original will occur. Sony, 464 U. S., at 451. But when, on the contrary, the second use is transformative, market substitution is at least less certain, and market harm may not be so readily inferred. Indeed, as to parody pure and simple, it is more likely that the new work will not affect the market for the original in a way cognizable under this factor, that is, by acting as a substitute for it ("supersed[ing] [its] objects"). See Leval 1125; Patry & Perlmutter 692, 697-698. This is so because the parody and the original usually serve different market functions. Bisceglia, ASCAP, Copyright Law Symposium, No. 34, p. 23. 
We do not, of course, suggest that a parody may not harm the market at all, but when a lethal parody, like a scathing theater review, kills demand for the original, it does not produce a harm cognizable under the Copyright Act. Because "parody may quite legitimately aim at garroting the original, destroying it commercially as well as artistically," B. Kaplan, An Unhurried View of Copyright 69 (1967), the role of the courts is to distinguish between "[b]iting criticism [that merely] suppresses demand [and] copyright infringement[, which] usurps it." Fisher v. Dees, 794 F. 2d, at 438. 
This distinction between potentially remediable displacement and unremediable disparagement is reflected in the rule that there is no protectable derivative market for criticism. The market for potential derivative uses includes only those that creators of original works would in general develop or license others to develop. Yet the unlikelihood that creators of imaginative works will license critical reviews or lampoons of their own productions removes such uses from the very notion of a potential licensing market. "People ask . . . for criticism, but they only want praise." S. Maugham, Of Human Bondage 241 (Penguin ed. 1992). Thus, to the extent that the opinion below may be read to have considered harm to the market for parodies of "Oh, Pretty Woman," see 972 F. 2d, at 1439, the court erred. Accord, Fisher v. Dees, 794 F. 2d, at 437; Leval 1125; Patry & Perlmutter 688-691. 
In explaining why the law recognizes no derivative market for critical works, including parody, we have, of course, been speaking of the later work as if it had nothing but a critical aspect (i.e., "parody pure and simple," supra, at 22). But the later work may have a more complex character, with effects not only in the arena of criticism but also in protectable markets for derivative works, too. In that sort of case, the law looks beyond the criticism to the other elements of the work, as it does here. 2 Live Crew's song comprises not only parody but also rap music, and the derivative market forrap music is a proper focus of enquiry, see Harper & Row, 471 U. S., at 568; Nimmer § 13.05[B]. Evidence of substantial harm to it would weigh against a finding of fair use, [n.23] because the licensing of derivatives is an important economic incentive to the creation of originals. See 17 U.S.C. § 106(2) (copyright owner has rights to derivative works). Of course, the only harm to derivatives that need concern us, as discussed above, is the harm of market substitution. The fact that a parody may impair the market for derivative uses by the very effectiveness of its critical commentary is no more relevant under copyright than the like threat to the original market. 
Although 2 Live Crew submitted uncontroverted affidavits on the question of market harm to the original, neither they, nor Acuff Rose, introduced evidence or affidavits addressing the likely effect of 2 Live Crew's parodic rap song on the market for a non parody, rap version of "Oh, Pretty Woman." And while Acuff Rose would have us find evidence of a rap market in the very facts that 2 Live Crew recorded a rap parody of "Oh, Pretty Woman" and another rap group sought a license to record a rap derivative, there was no evidence that a potential rap market was harmed in any way by 2 Live Crew's parody, rap version. The fact that 2 Live Crew's parody sold as part of a collection of rap songs says very little about the parody's effect on a market for a rap version of the original, either of the music alone or ofthe music with its lyrics. The District Court essentially passed on this issue, observing that Acuff Rose is free to record "whatever version of the original it desires," 754 F. Supp., at 1158; the Court of Appeals went the other way by erroneous presumption. Contrary to each treatment, it is impossible to deal with the fourth factor except by recognizing that a silent record on an important factor bearing on fair use disentitled the proponent of the defense, 2 Live Crew, to summary judgment. The evidentiary hole will doubtless be plugged on remand. 
It was error for the Court of Appeals to conclude that the commercial nature of 2 Live Crew's parody of "Oh, Pretty Woman" rendered it presumptively unfair. No such evidentiary presumption is available to address either the first factor, the character and purpose of the use, or the fourth, market harm, in determining whether a transformative use, such as parody, is a fair one. The court also erred in holding that 2 Live Crew had necessarily copied excessively from the Orbison original, considering the parodic purpose of the use. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 
It is so ordered. 
Justice Kennedy, concurring. 
The common law method instated by the fair use provision of the copyright statute, 17 U.S.C. § 107 (1988 ed. and Supp. IV), presumes that rules will emerge from the course of decisions. I agree that certain general principles are now discernable to define the fair use exception for parody. One of these rules, as the Court observes, is that parody may qualify as fair use regardless of whether it is published or performed for profit. Ante, at 22. 
Another is that parody may qualify as fair use only if it draws upon the original composition to make humorous or ironic commentary about that same composition. Ante, at 10. It is not enough that the parody use the original in a humorous fashion, however creative that humor may be. The parody must target the original, and not just its general style, the genre of art to which it belongs, or society as a whole (although if it targets the original, it may target those features as well). See Rogers v. Koons, 960 F. 2d 301, 310 (CA2 1992) ("[T]hough the satire need not be only of the copied work and may . . . also be a parody of modern society, the copied work must be, at least in part, an object of the parody"); Fisher v. Dees, 794 F. 2d 432, 436 (CA9 1986) ("[A] humorous or satiric work deserves protection under the fair use doctrine only if the copied work is at least partly the target of the work in question"). This prerequisite confines fair use protection to works whose very subject is the original composition and so necessitates some borrowing from it. See MCA, Inc. v. Wilson, 677 F. 2d 180, 185 (CA2 1981) ("[I]f the copyrighted song is not at least in part an object of the parody, there is no need to conjure it up"); Bisceglia, Parody and Copyright Protection: Turning the Balancing Act Into a Juggling Act, in ASCAP, Copyright Law Symposium, No. 34, pp. 23-29 (1987). It also protects works we have reason to fear will not be licensed by copyright holders who wish to shield their works from criticism. See Fisher, supra, at 437 ("Self esteem is seldom strong enough to permit the granting of permission even in exchange for a reasonable fee"); Posner, When Is Parody Fair Use?, 21 J. Legal Studies 67, 73 (1992) ("There is an obstruction when the parodied work is a target of the parodist's criticism, for it may be in the private interest of the copyright owner, but not in the social interest, to suppress criticism of the work") (emphasis omitted). 
If we keep the definition of parody within these limits, we have gone most of the way towards satisfying the four factor fair use test in § 107. The first factor (the purpose and character of use) itself concerns the definition of parody. The second factor (the nature of the copyrighted work) adds little to the first, since "parodies almost invariably copy publicly known, expressive works." Ante, at 17. The third factor (the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole) is likewise subsumed within the definition of parody. In determining whether an alleged parody has taken too much, the target of the parody is what gives content to the inquiry. Some parodies, by their nature,require substantial copying. See Elsmere Music, Inc. v. National Broadcasting Co., 623 F. 2d 252 (CA2 1980) (holding that "I Love Sodom" skit on "Saturday Night Live" is legitimate parody of the "I Love New York" campaign). Other parodies, like Lewis Carroll's "You Are Old, Father William," need only take parts of the original composition. The third factor does reinforce the principle that courts should not accord fair use protection to profiteers who do no more than add a few silly words to someone else's song or place the characters from a familiar work in novel or eccentric poses. See, e.g., Walt Disney Productions v. Air Pirates, 581 F. 2d 751 (CA9 1978); DC Comics Inc. v. Unlimited Monkey Business, Inc., 598 F. Supp. 110 (ND Ga. 1984). But, as I believe the Court acknowledges, ante, at 18-20, it is by no means a test of mechanical application. In my view, it serves in effect to ensure compliance with the targeting requirement. 
As to the fourth factor (the effect of the use on the market for the original), the Court acknowledges that it is legitimate for parody to suppress demand for the original by its critical effect. Ante, at 22-23. What it may not do is usurp demand by its substitutive effect. Ibid. It will be difficult, of course, for courts to determine whether harm to the market results from a parody's critical or substitutive effects. But again, if we keep the definition of parody within appropriate bounds, this inquiry may be of little significance. If a work targets another for humorous or ironic effect, it is by definition a new creative work. Creative works can compete with other creative works for the same market, even if their appeal is overlapping. Factor four thus underscores the importance of ensuring that the parody is in fact an independent creative work, which is why the parody must "make some critical comment or statement about the original work which reflects the original perspective of the parodist--thereby giving theparody social value beyond its entertainment function." Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Inc. v. Showcase Atlanta Cooperative Productions, Inc., 479 F. Supp. 351, 357 (ND Ga. 1979). 
The fair use factors thus reinforce the importance of keeping the definition of parody within proper limits. More than arguable parodic content should be required to deem a would be parody a fair use. Fair use is an affirmative defense, so doubts about whether a given use is fair should not be resolved in favor of the self proclaimed parodist. We should not make it easy for musicians to exploit existing works and then later claim that their rendition was a valuable commentary on the original. Almost any revamped modern version of a familiar composition can be construed as a "comment on the naivete of the original," ante, at 13, because of the difference in style and because it will be amusing to hear how the old tune sounds in the new genre. Just the thought of a rap version of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or "Achy, Breaky Heart" is bound to make people smile. If we allow any weak transformation to qualify as parody, however, we weaken the protection of copyright. And underprotection of copyright disserves the goals of copyright just as much as overprotection, by reducing the financial incentive to create. 
The Court decides it is "fair to say that 2 Live Crew's song reasonably could be perceived as commenting on the original or criticizing it, to some degree." Ante, at 13 (applying the first fair use factor). While I am not so assured that 2 Live Crew's song is a legitimate parody, the Court's treatment of the remaining factors leaves room for the District Court to determine on remand that the song is not a fair use. As future courts apply our fair use analysis, they must take care to ensure that not just any commercial take off is rationalized post hoc as a parody. 
With these observations, I join the opinion of the Court. 
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison and William Dees 
Pretty Woman, walking down the street,
Pretty Woman, the kind I like to meet,
Pretty Woman, I don't believe you,
you're not the truth,
No one could look as good as you
Pretty Woman, won't you pardon me,
Pretty Woman, I couldn't help but see,
Pretty Woman, that you look lovely as can be
Are you lonely just like me?
Pretty Woman, stop a while,
Pretty Woman, talk a while,
Pretty Woman give your smile to me
Pretty woman, yeah, yeah, yeah
Pretty Woman, look my way,
Pretty Woman, say you'll stay with me
`Cause I need you, I'll treat you right
Come to me baby, Be mine tonight
Pretty Woman, don't walk on by,
Pretty Woman, don't make me cry,
Pretty Woman, don't walk away,
Hey, O. K.
If that's the way it must be, O. K.
I guess I'll go on home, it's late
There'll be tomorrow night, but wait!
What do I see
Is she walking back to me?
Yeah, she's walking back to me!
Oh, Pretty Woman. 
Pretty woman walkin' down the street
Pretty woman girl you look so sweet
Pretty woman you bring me down to that knee
Pretty woman you make me wanna beg please
Oh, pretty woman
Big hairy woman you need to shave that stuff
Big hairy woman you know I bet it's tough
Big hairy woman all that hair it ain't legit
`Cause you look like `Cousin It'
Big hairy woman
Bald headed woman girl your hair won't grow
Bald headed woman you got a teeny weeny afro
Bald headed woman you know your hair could look nice
Bald headed woman first you got to roll it with rice
Bald headed woman here, let me get this hunk of biz for ya
Ya know what I'm saying you look better than rice a roni
Oh bald headed woman
Big hairy woman come on in
And don't forget your bald headed friend
Hey pretty woman let the boys
Jump in
Two timin' woman girl you know you ain't right
Two timin' woman you's out with my boy last night
Two timin' woman that takes a load off my mind
Two timin' woman now I know the baby ain't mine
Oh, two timin' woman
Oh pretty woman

Roy Orbison, Oh, Pretty Woman (1964)

The 2 Live Crew, Pretty Woman (1989)


  1. Why did the Court that The 2 Live Crew parody of Roy Orbison's song was a fair use? Did it rely on all four factors equally?
  2. The Court held that a parody can be a fair use, unless it substitutes for the original. What does that mean?
  3. The Court distinguishes between parody and satire, holding that satire requires more justification for copying than parody. Why? Do you agree?
  4. The Court held that commercial uses can be fair uses, but that commercial use weighs against fair use. Do you agree? Should the relevance of commercial use depend on the context?
  5. The Court holds that the "amount" of copying is both a quantitative and a qualitative question. It isn't just how much the defendant copies, but the importance of what defendant copies. What if defendant copies an important element of the original work in order to improve or recontextualize it?
  6. The Court discusses good faith & fair dealing as elements of the fair use analysis.  Do you think these should be included?  Why or why not?
  7. The Court implies that The 2 Live Crew's parody of Roy Orbison is crude or unsophisticated. Is that appropriate?
  8. The Court suggests that a fair use parody must criticize the original work, rather than society at large. Do you agree?
  9. In 1991, Metallica released the album Metallica, which included the song Enter Sandman. In 2010, Andy Rehfeldt created a smooth jazz version of Enter Sandman. Is it a fair use?

Metallica, Enter Sandman (1991)

Andy Rehfeldt, Enter Sandman (2010)


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