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Intellectual Property: Fair Dealing and Public Interest

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. ‘Fair Use’ allows limited use of copyrighted material without the need to get permission from the copyright holders. It makes provision for the legal, unlicensed citation or inclusion of copyrighted materials in another author’s work.  There are numerous examples of fair use including criticism, review, commentary, search engines, parody, journalism, research, teaching, archiving and scholarship.

A significant statement on what constitutes fair dealing was given by Lord Dunning MR in the case of Hubbard v Vosper (1972). In 1971 the book ‘The Mind Benders’ was published.  It was written by Mr. Cyril Vosper, the first defendant, and published by Neville Spearman Ltd., the second defendants. It was very critical of the cult of Scientology.  On the same day the Church of Scientology of California went to the judge and obtained from them (ex parte) an interim injunction to restrain the publication of the book. Read more