Omaha, NE asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Nebraska

Q: If I make a podcast where I review books and highlight their essential details, am I committing infringement?

I plan to give credit to the author and don’t plan on quoting the book directly. I’m just wondering if I’m crossing a line between doing a “book review” and committing infringement

1 Lawyer Answer
Bernard Samuel Klosowski
Bernard Samuel Klosowski
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Greenville, SC

A: What's described sounds like "Fair Use" under Section 107 of the Copyright Act; e.g., criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research are forms of freedom of expression and are likely fair use.

Of course, "fair use" is simply a defense to a claim of copyright infringement - while it ultimately may be a successful defense, "fair use" can't prevent a lawsuit from being filed if the copyright owner is adamant. Nevertheless, if only snippets of books are being referenced (and even directly quoted) in order to review the books, such limited uses likely qualify as permissible criticism and commentary, and the copyright owners would be hard pressed under those circumstances to pursue a successful infringement claim.

Julie Fowler and James D. Williams agree with this answer

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