Bloggers love to include images on their blogs, and book covers may be an area of interest for bloggers who want to write a book review. However, you do not want to get caught up in a copyright infringement case.
Book covers are copyrighted, but fair use allows you to use them because you provide your readers with analysis or criticism about the book. However, if you claimed the book cover belonged to you and used it for your book cover, it is copyright infringement.
Most images carry copyright. The person who has the copyright owns the image. Check out this article if you want to know if you can use book cover images on your blog.
Precisely What is Fair Use?
Fair use is the reproduction of any material that is copyrighted for a specific purpose. It could be:
- Commenting upon
- Criticizing or analyzing
- Education or research
- Making a parody of
You can do all these things without permission from the copyright owner. Fair use is protection from a claim of copyright infringement. It is allowed if you are using the material for one of the above purposes. Unfortunately, the rules concerning copyright infringement are not very clear.
There have been many courtroom battles trying to determine this, and there still are no definitive guidelines that are considered Gospel. The lawmakers and judges who decide what is fair use did not want to limit its meaning. It can be compared to attempting to define what free speech is. They wanted to make sure that it was open to interpretation.
When cover art is created for a book, the work becomes copyright protected. The copyright owner has the right to reproduce the book cover, create new books or works based on the cover, give out copies of the book to the public, display the cover publicly, and give these rights to any third party they want.
If you want to use a book cover on your blog, you need to consider whether it is fair use. Fair use can be commentary and criticism or parody. There is also a subtle line between a parody and satire. It may be easier to understand if you know more about the legal parameters of fair use.
Commentary or Criticism as Fair Use
You may be writing a book review or analyzing someone else’s work. Using a book cover can be fair use, depending on what you do with it. Commentary or criticism are both a part of fair use. Some examples include:
- A book review of a new mystery novel
- Using illustrations of a book to make a point
- Copying a few paragraphs of a text for a school lesson
- Showing off the books you are selling
You can make use of copyrighted material as long as you are not claiming it as your own. For example, using a book cover on your blog would be appropriate if you are reviewing the book because you are not calling the work your own. You are simply giving a synopsis and your opinion of it.
Parody as Fair Use
A parody imitates or ridicules someone’s work. It is typically done in a comedic fashion. A parody requires that you use the original work to be parodied. A parody uses the copyright-protected work to discuss that work.
However, it must be made clear that while parody is okay, satire is not. A parody aims for the initial work to make a point. A satire makes use of the original work to criticize something else entirely.
Why Should You Use Book Cover on Your Blog?
From the viewpoint of a blogger, it would be advantageous to use a book cover if you are blogging a book review. People like to see pictures on blogs because it breaks up the text. A book review can be considered a product review, which requires a picture of the product. Book covers can be more memorable than the title or author, which helps sell the book.
Considering this, authors and publishers may thank you for using the cover of their book on your blog instead of suing you. Part of being creative is the ability to use pictures and images on your blog. A book cover constitutes an image. Photographs and images add value to a blog and make it more interesting for the reader.
Is it Legal to Use a Book Cover on Your Blog?
You must keep in mind that bloggers can be and have been sued for using copyrighted images on their blogs, so there is some risk involved. It all depends on how the book cover is used. Fair use means that you can legally cite or incorporate copyrighted material into your blog, but do not take it as your own.
If you have questions regarding whether a photograph is copyrighted, reverse seek from the image. Right-click on the picture and choose “copy image address.” Paste it into Google Images. It will demonstrate for you where the image is used and where it came from.
A book cover has its copyright, separate and in addition to the copyright on the actual book. Fair use basically protects you from being sued. The risk of being sued for using a book cover in a book review is significantly low. If you want to be extremely careful, you can seek permission to use the book cover or secure a license, but it is unnecessary.
If you create something new from the book cover, like using the book cover to make your own, you may get sued. The only caveat is that fair use is determined case-by-case, which can confuse things. You just need to be aware of the context you are using the book cover, and you should be okay.
Fair use allows you, the blogger, to use specific images on your blog, as long as it falls within the legal parameters of fair use. There is no strict definition of fair use, which can make it confusing, but when it comes to using book covers on your blog, exercise your best judgment.