HHCM:Fair use

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The Highland Historic Computer Museum acknowledges that some material reproduced on this site for non-commercial historical interest purposes is copyrighted by third parties. The museum, physically located in Highland, Maryland, USA, asserts as an affirmative defense that the fair use doctrine of United States copyright law permits such use. Fair use allows the reproduction of copyrighted material as long as the free usage serves the purpose of copyright law, which the United States Constitution defines as the promotion of "the Progress of Science and useful Arts," better than the legal enforcement of claims of infringement.

Review of United States law

The Copyright Act of 1976 defines fair use under Title 17, section 107 of the U.S. Code, reproduced here:

Section 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

     Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair
   use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in
   copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that
   section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting,
   teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use),
   scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.  In
   determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case
   is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -
       (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether
     such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit
     educational purposes;
       (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
       (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in
     relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
       (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or
     value of the copyrighted work.
   The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding
   of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the
   above factors.

The museum has a strong case for fair use under section 107. The copyrighted items reproduced on this site are provided for criticism, comment, teaching, scholarship and research of the computer system or manufacturer they relate to, or the general field of computer history. A review of the determining factors also indicates that our use is protected by fair use as defined by U.S. law.

  • The purpose and character of the use is a nonprofit and educational. The museum makes no profit by providing the copyrighted material for study.
  • The nature of the reproduced work is generally non-fictional and is reproduced for educational objectives (i.e. product manuals).
  • The amount of the copyrighted work reproduced is substantial in relation to the size of the whole work, however, even reproducing whole copies of works has been upheld as fair use.
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or the value of the copyrighted work is insignificant or nonexistent. The works reproduced here are not available from the copyright holder (i.e. out of print), and no similar product is currently marketed by the copyright holder (i.e. compilations). There is no commercial market for most of the copyrighted works reproduced here, as the material would be seen by the larger market as being outdated or irrelevant. Often the company holding the copyright has been dissolved and is not likely to be able or attempt to profit from the work. While the value of the copyrighted work is high to a limited amount of scholars and collectors, the overall value has depreciated since the end of the product line, computing era, or company that the work relates to. The copyright holder has no licenseing mechanism in place for the material we reproduce under fair use.