17 U.S.C. § 107 states that “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies … for purposes such as … research, is not an infringement of copyright.” (Emphasis added). House Report No. 94-1476 indicates that “scholarly research” or “advertising research” is more likely to qualify as fair use whereas “corporate” or “business” research is often found to infringe.
Research Purpose – Example
Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc., 804 F.3d 202 (2d Cir. 2015) - Google created a text-searchable database of millions of books by making digital scans of the entirety of each book. Google claimed its use of the copyrighted material enabled researchers to gather information that "would otherwise not be obtainable in lifetimes of searching." In addition, Google claimed its tool enabled new forms of research called "text mining" and "data mining" that allowed for researchers to track how terms are used over time. The court found that Google's use was fair.
Non-Research Purpose – Example
Am. Geophysical Union v. Texaco, Inc., 60 F.3d 913 (2d Cir. 1995) - Texaco was sued by publishers who sold journal subscriptions to Texaco. The publisher's claimed Texaco researchers copied and distributed entire articles from the plaintiffs' journals amongst Texaco research employees. The court found that Texaco's actions were “part of a systematic process of encouraging employee researchers to copy articles so as to multiply available copies while avoiding payment," and determined that Texaco's use for research purposes was not fair.