Sued for Copying 9 Words

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Can you be sued for copyright infringement by using a small quote or snippet? Yep. Such was Sony Pictures who was sued for using 9 words from a book by William Faulkner in a Woody Allen movie.

The court just dismissed the case, finding the use was de minimis (too small of an issue to worry about), fair use, and actually benefited instead of damaged the copyright owner.

Story: Woody Allen Won Out Over William Faulkner in Court

Court ruling: http://www-deadline-com.vimg.net/wp-...0718212943.pdf

Generally speaking, lawsuits are not filed for using quotes. But context is critical as to why the quote is being used. For example, it may not be wise to use a quote as the central theme of a commercial product. Using a quote to illustrate a point, or to make a common social reference is not going to be a problem.

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#copying #sued #words
  • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
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    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    . . . Using a quote to illustrate a point, or to make a common social reference is not going to be a problem.
    I wouldn't bet on it.

    No two points in question would be the same, and likewise no two court cases would be the same. What I will say is that plagiarism - in whatever form and however miniscule - always stands a chance of being challenged by the copyright holder; some much more aggressively than others.

    As an author and publisher I would take any steps necessary to prosecute any infringement of my work, however little. But you know what? If someone had the politeness to simply ask me for permission to use a small piece of my work, chances are I'd let them. Manners go a long way.
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    • Profile picture of the author writeaway
      Originally Posted by Horny Devil View Post

      I wouldn't bet on it.

      No two points in question would be the same, and likewise no two court cases would be the same.
      If this was true, then there is no such thing as stare decisis. According to your thinking, every set of facts will require a new trial on the merits regardless of similarity to previous cases. Thank goodness the world does not exist in such a legal Bizzaro world or else the courts would be perpetually clogged and nothing would get done. Just saying.
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      • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
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        Originally Posted by writeaway View Post

        If this was true, then there is no such thing as stare decisis. According to your thinking, every set of facts will require a new trial on the merits regardless of similarity to previous cases. Thank goodness the world does not exist in such a legal Bizzaro world or else the courts would be perpetually clogged and nothing would get done. Just saying.
        There are mitigating and extenuating circumstances in every case. This is the reason Crown Courts exist. They also take into consideration "smart asses". Just saying.
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      • Profile picture of the author MrGardner
        Yes the same applies to duplicate content ie. articles, blog posts, etc, and Google punishes duplicate content. Also, plagiarism.org has much great information to help us to stay safe
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    • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
      Originally Posted by Horny Devil View Post

      As an author and publisher I would take any steps necessary to prosecute any infringement of my work, however little.
      There are several points to my post and you seem to have missed some. For instance, filing a lawsuit over de minimis violations is likely going to result in a quick dismissal. Just as the Faulkner suit was dismissed.

      The next stage will be a sanctions motion.

      I just got done with a trial where someone took your approach and it cost him almost $10,000 just in costs to have the judge ultimately say the approach was frivolous. He is now looking at a six-figure counter lawsuit for his actions.

      Bottom line(s) - be reasonable: (1) Be aware of copyright issues when using quotes or snippets. If you are curating content you may have a problem. The AP recently won a lawsuit against someone (Meltwater) for using their headlines and the first paragraphs of articles. (2) But, if you think you can file a winning copyright case no matter "how little" of your content was used, the context was fine, and if you were not really damaged, expect a judge to hand your head to you.

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  • Profile picture of the author prchecker
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    • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
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      Originally Posted by prchecker View Post

      plagiarism is bad where a content is copied to for selfish reasons. But a simple quote can not be really seen as plagiarism.
      Maybe if/when the day arises and it's your quote, you'll disagree.

      If you can't use the word "Coke", what makes you think it's fine to use a whole sentence or quote, belonging to someone else.

      Wouldn't it be great if people put real thought into what they write before posting it. Just saying.
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      • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
        Originally Posted by Horny Devil View Post

        Maybe if/when the day arises and it's your quote, you'll disagree.

        If you can't use the word "Coke", what makes you think it's fine to use a whole sentence or quote, belonging to someone else.

        Wouldn't it be great if people put real thought into what they write before posting it. Just saying.
        Why, yes... yes, it would be great if people, such as yourself, put real
        thought into what they write before posting it...

        For example...

        I can actually use the word coke as frequently as I desire in an article
        or book about iron ore.

        Just saying.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Alan
    I sent a legal notice once to an AdWords competitor that copied my ad word for word except the destination URL. It wasn’t much text but in that case it was the whole ball of wax. He called me and thought it was a ridiculous request. He did say he had an attorney and would do me the courtesy of having his attorney look at the legality of his ad. His attorney advised him to take it down and send me an apology.
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