Stay Calm.
Move Forward.
Grand Rapids Michigan Skyline Over Grand River
  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Intellectual Property Litigation
  4.  » What constitutes “fair use” of copyrighted materials, like songs?

What constitutes “fair use” of copyrighted materials, like songs?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2022 | Intellectual Property Litigation

Maybe you just discovered someone else using your original works online, but they claim that their behavior falls under fair use. Perhaps you have just received a cease-and-desist letter from another content creator regarding something you posted on your website or music that you sampled in a video. 

Generally speaking, those who create original works of art, pieces of music or even written language, like essays and poems, retain the right to use and distribute those creations according to their own wishes. Other people hoping to use those creations for a different purpose either need permission or for their actions to fall under the fair use doctrine

What activities constitute fair use? Here’s what to know:

Criticism, commentary and review

Those who frequently engage in cultural critiques need other people to understand the original works that they reference. They might sample parts of a song or display a few moments of a video to make a point. Typically, the use of excerpts or small selections of original work for critical purposes will fall under fair use and will not be a violation of someone else’s copyright. 


When an idea, story, song, original work or character becomes popular, others may want to spoof the idea. 

Parodies involve playing on someone else’s original concept while adding to, expanding on or poking fun at the source material. Often, those who create parodies can protect themselves by getting permission from the original creator, although such steps are not technically necessary to remain compliant with the loss. 

Understanding the rules that apply to copyrighted original creations can help you protect your intellectual property or avoid violating someone else’s rights.