Fair use law

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Fair use law

I was giving a online critique of a photographer who was using live animals in her photos and she threatened me with a lawyer and a cease and desist. In accordance to fair law I was not breaking any of the copyright infringement laws and was wondering if she could actually do anything at all? Fair use allows me to use her photos as long as I don’t sell them, remove her watermarks or alter the photos in anyway, which I did not do. Can you help me out please?

Asked on March 19, 2019 under Business Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Fair use is more limited than that. Two particularl limitations:
1) It's not just whether or not you sell the photos as is: if you use the material commercially--i.e. to make a profit from in some way, such as if you make money from ads or sponsors or subscriptions--that weighs against this being fair use. Fair use is preferably nonprofit or educational use. 
2) Generally, for fair use, you only use a relatively small portion of the material. If you showed, for example, a large portion of her photographs about animals, that argues against fair use.
So while what you did may be fair use, it's not as cut and dried as you indicate: based on the above, it also might not be fair use.

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