The Copyright Naughty List

This post by Susan Spann originally appeared on the Writers in the Storm blog on 12/10/14.

Happy Holidays!

‘Tis the season to stay off the copyright “naughty list,” so I’m here to share a few #PubLaw tips for avoiding copyright infringement in your holiday blogging and social media celebrations!

When celebrating online this holiday season, keep these helpful rules in mind:


At the holidays, it’s tempting to re-post the lyrics to favorite carols or celebratory songs, either on Facebook, on a blog, or on other social media sites. Unfortunately, lyric-sharing often violates the copyright of the lyricist or songwriter, because lyrics are protected by copyright, as are novels, short stories and poems.

Posting an excerpt (no more than 2-3 lines) is often permitted as “fair use,” especially when the quoted work runs at least 30 lines. However, there is no absolute test for fair use, and no definitive test for when you’ve used too much of a copyrighted work. The legal test is “facts and circumstances,” based on several factors (so anyone who tells you “X lines is ok, but more is not” isn’t telling you the absolute legal truth.


Read the full post on Writers in the Storm.