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Think it's harmless to copy those newsletter articles for your files? Think again.

This story appears in the January 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Suppose a certain industry newsletter is indispensable to your business. Many of your employees need ready access to it, but subscriptions cost $400 each. How about buying one subscription and encouraging employees to check for articles they think they might need and then make copies for their files?

That's what Texaco Inc. did with various scientific journals that its huge research and development staff needed--until the publisher of one of the journals found out and took Texaco to court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Texaco's practice was not "fair use" of the journals. After much negotiation, Texaco agreed to settle the case with a seven-figure retroactive licensing fee.

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