The Supreme Court rendered the 103-Tai-Shang-1352 Civil Decision on July 3, 2014 (hereinafter, the "Decision"), which held that the exemption provisions under the Copyright Act are different from fair use provisions, as exemption provisions set restrictions on the types of copyrighted works (that are protectable) and the associated proprietary rights, by which a court may grant the exemption without considering the fair use balancing factors if the required elements are met.
The facts underlying the aforementioned Decision are: Appellee A alleged that the branch office of Appellee B committed copyright infringement by publishing, editing and exploiting a photograph taken by an employee of Appellee A, which received an award for outstanding journalism, in an article in Appellee B's newspaper. The lower court considered the four fair use factors under Article 65, Paragraph 2 of the Copyright Act and concluded that the exploitation of the subject photograph constituted fair use and is thus not copyright infringement. In the Decision However, the Supreme Court reversed this finding in the Decision.
In the Decision, the Supreme Court reasoned that exemption provisions under the Copyright Act are applied differently from the fair use provisions. Article 49 of the Copyright Act is an exemption provision which allows copyrighted works to be exploited to the extent necessary in the course of reporting current events in newspapers or the Internet; it functions as an affirmative defense, and there is no requirement on inquiring whether the exploitation was fair. Therefore, the court does not need to consider if the fair use factors under Article 65, Paragraph 2 of the Copyright Act. In addition, the "works seen or heard" under Article 49 refer to works that can be perceived by the senses in the course of reporting. Although the lower court deemed that the article at issue as an act of reporting current events under Article 49, the original trial court concluded that fair use is met under Article 65, Paragraph 2 of the Copyright Act without exploring how the subject reporting "seen or heard" Appellant A's photograph. As such, the Decision found the unfavorable decision against Appellant A to be in error and reversed the lower court's decision