First off: this is an experiment with AI - the content I create will state that it is fake and generated news - I'm not trying to mislead anyone!

So for my 'fake news' site I plan on copying headlines from news sites all over the web (using RSS feeds if that matters). Is this considered fair use? I have no issue with attributing where I get each headline (eg. A line below the headline saying something like 'source:www.bbc.co.uk'). I could generate the headlines myself, but I feel using real headlines adds an air of realism to the project.

If it matters, I don't expect to make any money from this, although there may be potential to make add revenue if it's a big success!


1 Answer 1


To examine this further and answer your question, we need to look at Copyright (and fair use) as well as Defamation.

Alas, I am unsure as to how taking legitimate headlines from around the world and attributing their source is 'fake news' - but I'll accept that it's 'fake news' for the purposes of exploring this topic.

A lot of the potential (or motive) for a person or company to litigate against you will be context specific and detailed to how you have used their work and portray their journalists and characters - misquotes etc.

As an exception to British copyright law, fair dealing is governed by Sections 29 and 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which outlines three instance where fair dealing is a legitimate defence:

  1. If the use is for the purposes of research or private study;
  2. If it is used for the purposes of criticism, review or quotation;
  3. Where it is utilised for the purposes of reporting current events (this does not apply to photographs)

However, where you may come into problems is:

A statutory definition for fair dealing does not exist; it will always be a matter of fact, degree and interpretation in every fair use case. Nor is there a percentage or quantitative measure to determine fair dealing. The Intellectual Property Office lists the key factors used to determine the validity of whether a particular dealing with a work is fair as follows:

  • Has the use of the work impacted negatively on the market for the original work? If the creator or owner has lost potential revenue through the re-use of their work, it is not likely to be fair.
  • Was it reasonable and necessary to use the amount of work that was taken?


Fair use for parody, caricature or pastiche The UK copyright law on fair use of works for the purposes of creating a parody or pastiche is also listed in Section 30A, Schedule 2 (2A) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

References to all here.

Guidance from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) states that fair use needs to be “fair and proportionate” and does not protect an individual from any other rights an author may have.

Those other rights may involve claiming defamation if this material creates fake news and uses the names of real journalists or companies etc - and if they allege that your AI fake news has caused serious harm in any way to their reputation - they could sue you for breach of the Defamation Act 2013. All of this is entirely contextual however as to how your AI might display or make fake news and how Google caches it and displays it - and if it could be portrayed as 'real' or believable for example.

You are also doing this at a time where 'anti fake news' law is evolving... and even though you say it's fake news for AI experiment purposes - it's a growing field of concern for many. (see here)

Copyright law is a vast and evolving area - and nothing is clear cut. It really depends if a major news company didn't like what you were doing and took exception to it and issued challenges on many areas of law based on that.

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