Fair Use: Movie Poster Art

Movie posterart is used in posts and on pages discussing particular movies under the doctrine of Fair Use as set forth in United States Copyright Law.

The reasoning behind claiming Fair Use is as follows:

  1. Purpose and character of the use: Throughout this website, movie poster art is used to identify a particular movie in the overall context of critical commentary. In a post about a particular movie, the movie poster art accompanies the post’s commentary about the movie. It helps the reader quickly identify the movie based on its recognizable visual representation. Movie poster art is always presented in much lower resolution than the original artwork, and cannot, in the format herein presented, be viewed at high resolution like the original artwork. Thus, it is considered “transformative” and therefore qualifies as fair use. [1]
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work: Original artwork for movie posters is intended to help visually identify movies to potential movie-goers for the purpose of enticing those potential movie-goers to purchase movie tickets. Because the movie poster reproductions used on this website are of significantly-reduced resolution as compared to the originals, they cannot be used in any way that competes with the original artwork.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole: The movie poster art presented on this website typically shows the entire poster, because a smaller portion of the poster would not be sufficient to properly identify the movie for purposes of critical commentary. In Kelly vs. Arriba Soft Corporation (2003), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found this type of use to be “reasonable and necessary in light of the intended use”. [1]
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work: Because of the low resolution of the movie poster art used within this website, it in no way creates a negative impact on the potential market for or value of the original artwork. In fact, because the purpose of the original artwork was to sell movie tickets, and was not intended to be marketed separately from the movie, and because the use of the low-resolution reproductions of movie poster artwork herein has no possible negative impact on the sales of tickets to their related movies, the effect on the original artwork’s potential market is somewhere between non-existent and negligible.

By applying these four “fair use tests”, it is hereby determined that the use of low-resolution reproductions of movie poster art within this website is in keeping with the doctrine of fair use and does not constitute copyright infringement.
Paul O'Rear Signature


  1. Wikipedia contributors, “Fair use,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use#Fair_use_on_the_Internet (accessed April 15, 2012).

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