Fair use? Transformative?


What exactly is Fair Use? (keep in mind that Australia has Fair Dealing, which is not quite the same). Why did the Judge consider Googles Book search project to be transformative? What are the possible benefits and possible issues with such a project?


According to Stim (2014) “a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner” (para 1).

In contrast fair dealing in the Australian context is : “There is no general exception for using copyright material simply because you think it is fair or because you are not making a profit. The Copyright Act allows you to use copyright material without permission if your use is a “fair dealing” for one of the following purposes:
• research or study;
• criticism or review;
• parody or satire;
• reporting news; or
• professional advice by a lawyer, patent attorney or trade marks attorney.” (Australian Copyright Council, 2012)

There is no mention here of being “transformative”.

The transformative nature of the Google Book Search project was that it allowed books that had been digitised to be searched, including books that were out of copyright or the existence thereof would not otherwise be known. This was beneficial to the public, including those searching for educational purposes. The search allowed limited access and thereby respected copyright while indicating where the book could be borrowed or purchased.


Australian Copyright Council. (2012, February). Fair Dealing. Retrieved fromhttp://www.copyright.org.au/admin/cms-acc1/_images/169501865452392488546d3.pdf

Stim, R. (2014). What Is Fair Use? Copyright Overview [Overview]. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/


And now for something practical … I’m in charge of setting up and running our school library volunteer program – so I’ve been parodying some vintage posters calling for volunteers, which has had some mixed comments from the community (mainly positive).

It started with this one  about forgetting the cooking – one feminist in the community objected, Volunteer 1








so we followed it with the “man overboard”

Library volunteer male 1







Needless to say we weren’t swamped by men signing up to volunteer!

Then for the training I made a mash-up with the Mad Men poster – it was irresistible – “where the truth lies?”  … wow,

I thought I’d get pushback on the fact that I’d not alpha’ed the cigarette out, but, the communications department was worried we’d fall foul of copyright.  I don’t think so?  What do you think?

volunteer training




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