Can You Use Someone’s Work for Criticism?

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In the creative world, there is no “avoiding criticism”. Every individual, upon witnessing creation, will have their own opinion about it. Therefore, it’s safe to say that where there is creation, there will be critique.

Speaking of critiques, some use parts of creation to build critique around it. Suppose you’re a reviewer who shows substantial parts of a work, are you allowed to? What does our Copyright Law say about it?

How Does One Legally Use a Copyrighted Work for Criticism?

Criticism is a natural response to the existence of work or creation. It seems that the Copyright Law understood this with the presence of an Article that discusses the use of works for writing criticism. Let us examine Article 44 paragraph (1) letter a of Law Number 28 of 2014 concerning Copyright which reads:

“The use, retrieval, reproduction, and/or modification of a Work and/or Related Rights product in whole or in part substantially is not considered a Copyright infringement if the source is fully mentioned or included for the purposes of: education, research, scientific writing, report preparation, writing criticism or reviewing a problem without prejudice to the reasonable interests of the Creator or Copyright Holder.”

The conclusion that can be drawn from the above Article is that it is possible to use, take, duplicate, or modify a work in part or whole to write criticism. However, it should be underlined that two conditions must be met so that criticism does not violate Copyright, namely:

  • sources must be listed in full;

  • does not harm the reasonable interests of the Creator or Copyright Holder.

To better understand Article 44, let’s all take a close look at the explanation for said Article. It says:

  • “Substantial part” means the most important and distinctive part that characterizes the work.

  • “Reasonable interest of the Creator or Copyright Holder” means the interest based on the balance in enjoying the economic benefits of a Work.

What can be understood here is that, essentially, using the entirety or just the substantial parts of a work is legally acceptable. However, when you use someone’s work, you need to state its source. Another thing you must ensure is that you didn’t, in any way, harm the economic rights/interests of the creator.

The Creator or Copyright Holder, as referred to in Article 8 has economic rights to:

  1. Publish Work;

  2. Reproduce Work in all its forms;

  3. Translate Work;

  4. Adapt, arrange, or transform Work;

  5. Distribute Work or copies thereof;

  6. Show Work;

  7. Announce Work;

  8. Communicate Work; and

  9. Lease Work.

If the creator feels that any of the economic activities mentioned above has been harmed or disrupted by the writing of criticism, they may file a lawsuit. You, the critic, can use Copyright Restrictions as a defense strategy, provided you can show that your criticism is not detrimental to the creator’s economic interests. Prove that the use of the creator’s work is done to criticize, not just to show the creator’s work for economic purposes.

Criticism is allowed. We can even argue that criticism is helpful in terms of improving the quality of a work. However, when you use the work of a Creator, ensure that there is no element of copyright infringement that will certainly harm the creator. Appreciate the creator of a work, even when you’re criticizing said work.

Contact us via e-mail at if you have further questions regarding the topic of this article or other Intellectual Property topics. We’ll be ready to assist.


  • Law Number 28 of 2014 concerning Copyright Law

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