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From Encyclopedia Dramatica
Copyright infringement is bad, m'kay?
- Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it.
Stolen without permission from Nolo:
- Any unauthorized use of a copyrighted work other than fair use. Uses can range from outright plagiarism to using a portion of a photograph in a CD-ROM. The copyright owner may file a lawsuit to stop the infringement and collect damages from the infringer, provided the owner has registered her copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Some people claim that they aren't infringing a copyrighted picture or song because they added something new to the picture, or they claim Fair Use. Fair use is a balancing test between four factors. They aren't all weighed equally, and don't necessarily mean what you think they do.
the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
Using a song or picture on YouTube or Wikipedia doesn't mean it's noncommercial. Wikipedia makes money off of donations and YouTube makes money off of advertising. Just because you aren't making any money doesn't mean it's noncommercial.
the nature of the copyrighted work
Most copyrighted works are made so that someone can make money off of it. There are some exceptions, but generally someone is trying to sell what you're posting for free. Even if that somebody is the RIAA it's still illegal.
amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
Actually, use of any portion of a song can constitute as copyright infringement. This was established by the decision in Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films. NWA was sued by Funkadelic for sampling a very small portion of "Get Off Your Ass And Jam" into the song "100 Miles And Runnin", even though NWA edited the sample, put it in the background, and only looped it five times. The Sixth Circuit Court established that de minimus was not a valid argument in sampling cases (so it doesn't matter how little the sample is), and set the precedent on sampling by stating, "Get a license or do not sample."
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
For teh lulz