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Apple's Safari web browser prevents you from taking a screenshot of DRM (Digital Rights Management) content, such as Netflix movies, by blacking out that part of screen (when taking screenshot) which has the movie (as seen the the screenshot).

This is done in order to prevent piracy, and I get it.

However, my question is if Apple doesn't actually infringe any rights here? Because, for example, can't I opt to take a screenshot of a movie, to use it in a blog post? I believe Apple is infringing some right of the user here.

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    Please enumerate which right Apple would infringe on and where you got it from. Also, it's not just Netflix, it's also for example Amazon videos.
    – Trish
    Dec 31, 2022 at 18:29
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    It depends on how you use the screen shot. For example, if you sell copies of the screen shot as art, that's not fair use.
    – phoog
    Dec 31, 2022 at 21:00
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    You may or may not have the right to take a screen shot, depending on the situation. Apple cannot know whether you have the right in your situation. They have no duty to help you doing something that is often illegal. And “fair use” is an affirmative defense, it is still copyright infringement, you are just not punished for it. You have no right to make fair use copies, so no right is violated.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 1, 2023 at 9:33
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    The title could be improved. In your title you ask "is it fair use to take a screenshot", while in the body you ask if Apple is infringing a right of yours by blocking your ability to take a (perhaps) fair-use screenshot. Probably more accurate title should be something like: "Can a computer program legally block my ability to take fair-use screenshots of DRM-protected content?"
    – Brandin
    Jan 3, 2023 at 12:48
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    I'm voting to leave this open. There are multiple close votes relating to duplicate, but I think the issue is that this has a misleading title, which I will edit to more accurately reflect the intent. Jan 3, 2023 at 23:42

3 Answers 3

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Apple has no obligation to allow you to make fair-use copies or extracts.

You have no affirmative right to make them, even if it is not against the law to do so.

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It depends on what rights are granted under your EULA. Here is an example. §1 tells you that you have a license to use their software and it even points out that "this License does not grant you any rights to use such content". It grants you "a limited non-exclusive license to install and use one copy of the Apple Software", there is stuff about replacing Open Source components, you may not decompile the program etc. There are terms about consenting to use of data; you also "agree that Apple is not responsible for examining or evaluating the content, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, validity, copyright compliance, legality, decency, quality or any other aspect of third party materials, extensions or web sites". Nothing in the EULA guarantees that you can take screenshots of protected material, even if you would prevail in an infringement lawsuit based on "fair use". So Apple has not infringed any right of yours, they have "refused to make it easy for you to exercise that right", or even if they "actively made it difficult".

The titular question about what counts as "fair use" is multiply asked and answered here.

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  • Short summary on the fair use answer: it might or might not, depending on the use. If you take a screenshot of the specific scene in base instinct to discuss its influence, that's fair use, but if you make a screencap to share the details on a bord dedicated to self-pleasuring material, that's not fair use.
    – Trish
    Dec 31, 2022 at 18:53
  • @Trish It seems many fair uses can be achieved by using a phone camera and taking a photo of your computer screen, or by taking a second phone to take a photo of your first phone. And that is something that is very very hard to prevent for software.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 5, 2023 at 11:10
  • @gnasher729 what does that have to do with "fair use is determined by its use"? Use, not method to get the material is crucial.
    – Trish
    Jan 5, 2023 at 11:26
  • It has everything to do with the question. "Does Apple preventing screen shots violate my rights to make fair use copies?" "Not if you can make a fair use copy by using a camera. "
    – gnasher729
    Jan 5, 2023 at 11:28
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Someone - not Apple - has created a website. They decided what they want you to see, and also what they want you to be able to copy.

Apple’s software should let you do exactly what the website wants to allow you. In your case, taking screen shots is something the website doesn’t want you to do, and apples software follows that intent. The website also doesn’t want you to take a photo of the screen, but that’s something apple can’t prevent.

If you think you have a right to make a screenshot, that’s between you and the website. Apples software does what the website asks it to do. It’s the website making the decision, not apple.

For fair use situations, a photo taken with an average phone should be good enough.

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