Miami, FL asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Florida

Q: Are quotes from books copyright infringement?

I am in the process of developing a content series for TikTok, focusing on the literary world. The essence of my project involves creating videos that feature narrations of quotes from various books, accompanied by original artwork inspired by the narratives.The videos are intended to be commercial, part of a monetized channel aimed at celebrating and promoting the works of various authors, including Steven Erikson among others. My objective is to engage a wider audience with these authors' works in a way that supports their market presence positively.In light of this, I seek expert advice on a few critical points to ensure my project aligns with U.S. copyright laws:Would the use of literary quotes in such a manner typically fall under fair use, considering the commercial nature of the videos yet their promotional intent?What proactive measures can I take to mitigate the risk of infringing on copyright, especially given the project's scope involving multiple works and authors?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: When it comes to using literary quotes in videos, especially in a commercial context, navigating copyright laws can indeed be complex. The concept of "fair use" is particularly relevant here. While fair use might cover the use of quotes to a certain extent, the commercial nature of your project, combined with the intent to promote these works, does not automatically exempt you from copyright concerns. The key factors in determining fair use include the purpose and character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

To mitigate the risk of copyright infringement, consider a few proactive steps. First, limit the length of the quotes you use to ensure they fall within what might be considered fair use – shorter excerpts are generally safer. Additionally, providing critical commentary or educational insights about the quotes or the works they come from can further align your use with fair use principles. It's also beneficial to attribute the quotes accurately to their authors and works, showing respect for the original creations.

Finally, seeking permission from the copyright holders (authors or their publishers) can be a definitive way to avoid infringement issues. This approach not only respects the rights of the creators but also potentially opens doors to collaborations that could enhance the value of your content. Remember, every case is unique, and if in doubt, consulting with a legal professional familiar with copyright law can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and goals.

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