Tractor Big Year: What is “fair use”?

Tractor Big Year is me doing an hour of work every afternoon on the nitty gritty planning preparatory to publishing/producing/making my damned book when it is ready. Why do this? First, in this era of digitization, this is a fascinating topic. Second, being ready is efficient. Third, it motivates drafting.

So . . . a first issue is something I’ve never thought about before. Attempting to bring history alive, I’ll be quoting others – participants in history, commentators, other historians – as often as I can. But I can’t quote willy-nilly. When do I have to ask for permission and when might it not be necessary? In the United States, a concept that reigns is that of “fair use,” which sounds logical but how the heck do you apply it?

Brianna Schofield and Robert Walker of the Author’s Alliance have written (108-pages as a PDF) what might be a most useful guide: “Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors.” Do I need to get copyright clearance each time I quote?They say: “In some situations, unlicensed use may be legally permitted by virtue of the “fair use” doctrine, a well-known (but oft-misunderstood) limitation to copyright in the United States.”

In I dive . . .


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