But, the concept of fair use or fair dealing of copyright is an exception to this rule. Section 52 of the Copyright Act enlists some of the acts, which do not constitute an infringement of copyright. Fair use or fair dealing of copyright is one of them.
The idea behind the exception is to disseminate the information. If fair dealing is not allowed and permission needs to be sought for every use of any copyright, work or material, it would result in a high transaction cost for obtaining information.
Fair dealing is nowhere defined in the Copyright Act, 1957. As per section 52(1) (a) & (b) of the Act, fair dealing is a defence applicable only in respect to literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. It is not out of the context to note that fair dealing applies only with respect to work and not to reproduction of the work.
Thus, fair dealing or fair use of the work extends to the following purposes: viz., for private use including research, criticism or review or for reporting current events in a newspaper, magazine or by broadcast or in a cinematograph film or by means of photographs.
Thus, we see that the fair dealing is the most significant limitation on the exclusive right of the copyright owner. Though, the line between fair dealing and infringement is very thin and there are no guidelines to define the extent in terms of how much should be used without the permission from the author, so that one can come within the protection net.
It has been interpreted by the courts on a number of occasions by looking at the economic impact on the copyright owner. Thus, where the economic impact is not significant, the use may be called fair dealing.