Definition of Copyright Law Registration

The De Minimis Doctrine Plays an Important Role in Copyright Law  February 14, 2013 – 07:24 pm
But the Copyright Act doesn't

Every good lawyer needs to know a little Latin. While copyright litigators rarely need to think about quare clausum fregit (trespass on another’s land) or qui peccat ebrius luat sobrius (“He who sins when drunk shall be punished when sober”), they do occasionally have to deal with the maxim de minimis non curat lex (“the law does not take notice of trifles”). De minimis copying is a taking that “is so meager and fragmentary that the average audience would not recognize the appropriation.” Fisher v. Dees (9th Cir. 1986).

Application of the de minimis doctrine can arise in several different contexts in a copyright case. For example, it can refer to a technical violation so trivial that the law will not impose legal consequences. An example of this would be photocopying a cartoon from a magazine and posting it on the kitchen refrigerator. For obvious reasons, this type of situation is rarely litigated.

De minimis can also mean that commercial copying has occurred, but only to an extent that falls below the threshold of substantial similarity. Courts look at the copying from both a quantitative and qualitative viewpoint when addressing the de minimis issue.

The de minimis doctrine is sometimes incorrectly equated with fair use, but courts have distinguished the two. The fair use defense involves a careful examination of many factors, the amount and substantiality of the copying being just one of those factors. If the defendant’s argument is that the minimal copying involved does not reach the quantitative threshold for infringement, that analysis should be made in advance of the more complex question of fair use.

Source: Davis McGrath LLC

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Fair Use Explanation


A portion:
One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reprod... infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

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