Recently, a lawsuit surfaced involving Kathy Stockett, author of the best-selling book The Help, and Ablene Cooper, a 60-year-old longtime nanny of Stockett’s brother, Robert. Ms. Cooper argues that one of the primary characters in the book, “Aibileen Clark,” is a misrepresentation of her name and image, due to the author not obtaining permission to use Ms. Cooper’s likeness. Stockett, however, disagrees.
The personal situations of the fictional character “Aibileen” and Ms. Cooper are strikingly similar; each lost an adult son, then worked with white families; both have a “gold tooth;” and both have children they care for who address them as “Aibee.” Moreover, Ms. Cooper still works for Stockett’s brother and still cares for his children. She had even cared for Stockett’s young daughter once and the subject of Stockett’s book remained unmentioned.
The basis of the lawsuit is the question of whether the appropriation of Ms. Cooper's likeness without perfmission was covered under the principle of "fair use." And now that there will be a movie based on the book, will Ms. Cooper’s claim extend to the film as well?
Fair use and copyright also extend to the blogging community. Content scraping is a rising concern within it, and the Internet has created a heightened awareness of these issues. Consider the impossibility for all written content to be maintained as uniquely original when many websites cover the same topics. The opinions and critiques of the referenced materials are unique to the individual writer, but regardless of the content of the article, it is still imperative that the information is properly attributed to the source of the information.
The article "Excerpts, Scraping and Fair Use" says the “bottom line” in all this is that there has to be respect shown to others involved by properly attributing the original content. which ensures the originator gains in some portion from its use.
It is difficult to discern the fine line between fair use and copyright violation. Copyright does not protect ideas—“it only protects the idea in a tangible form.” The law regarding fair use is vague, which can lead to the question of how fair use and copyrights are interpreted.