Is is legal to publish online a summary of TIME mag article?

← Return to forum

  • Would it be legal, for example, to summarize in 1 page a 6 page TIME magazine report and posting it on a "news" website, giving full reference (and even link) to TIME, issue, and author. I believe this would be considered "derivative work" since its just a summary.

    1. This would be for-profit
    2. Listed on a "news" website
    3. Reference all original sources

    This is done by about the mutual fund industry. I don't know if they have agreements with the original publishers, but at the bottom of every "summary", they say:

    (News summaries based on original reports in other publications are prepared by the staff and are not created, sponsored, approved or endorsed by the publications to which the original reports are attributed.)

    Thank you,

    Ilya :?:
  • My feeling is that posting a summary in this manner is probably legal (a fair use). Summaries, reviews, and so on generally aren't copyright infringement unless they actually take a substantial portion of the exact expression of the material they are summarizing/reviewing. Additionally, in cases of factually based stories, since the facts themselves are not copyrightable.

    From the US copyright office:

    "The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

    So, it depends on the situation.
  • Hi, Ilya.

    I can’t say whether this is legal or not. I am not a legal expert and I haven’t seen the summary or the original article. Nevertheless, here are my own thoughts about fair use in this situation. (NOTE: For a comprehensive explanation of fair use, please see A helpful checklist of fair use criteria is available at

    1.Purpose of the use – describes itself as a news site. Uses of small portions of copyright-protected work are permitted for reporting. But… seems to be for profit, and for-profit use weighs against fair use.

    On the other hand, it might possibly be considered a transformative use. Transformative uses meet the criteria for fair use.

    2. Nature of the work – This factor is easier to determine; If the original work is a factual article, this favors fair use.

    3. Amount of work used – Small portions that aren’t the “heart” of the original work are generally safe to use. As Carlos says, “Summaries, reviews, and so on generally aren't copyright infringement unless they actually take a substantial portion of the exact expression of the material they are summarizing/reviewing.” Does the summary do this? If so, this weighs against fair use.

    4. Effect on market of original work – Does Ignite’s summary of the TIME article affect the amount of revenue TIME gains from the original work? It might. If someone gets a summary of an article in one page, would he or she bother to read all six pages of the original? Maybe. Maybe not.

    Finally, providing the appropriate citation as well as Ignite’s disclaimer is the appropriate thing to do, but it does not guarantee that this is a fair use.

    So is this use legal? Carlos thinks it is. I’m not sure, but I hope my reply is helpful on some level.

    Other opinions?


Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.

← Return to forum