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Copyright Information: Fair Use

Your guide to information & resources on copyright.

While copyright holders have certain rights, users do to. Fair Use is one of them, especially in the realm of education. Below are tips for determining if you might have a strong argument for Fair Use.

Tips for Discerning Fair Use

Fair Use refers to the unlicensed use of copyrighted material that is considered lawful under certain circumstances. Often educators can make a claim for fair use, but there are at least 4 major factors involved in determining whether something is indeed fair use.

4 Major Factors involved in Determining Fair Use:

Your proposed use of a copyrighted work may fall under "fair use," depending on many factors, including these 4 major factors (Title 17, Section 9):

The purpose/character of your use matters, whether it's any of the following:

  • Transformative use - new work, new purpose
    • Parody
    • Criticism, commentary, or news reporting
  • Teaching, research, or scholarship
  • Nonprofit vs commercial use

The nature of the copyrighted work matters:

  • Fiction vs. nonfiction
  • Published vs. unpublished

The amount and substantiability of your use refers to either of the following:

  • Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The amount of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, as well as how substantial a portion it is:

Two additional thoughts:

  • Quantity & quality matter
  • It's a judgment call

The amount of impact your use has of a copyrighted work on the value of the copyrighted work and on the market or potential market is a factor as well.

Fair Use is ever changing; what is Fair Use now may not be in the future. It is important to stay abreast of the latest information and cases.

Understanding & Applying Fair Use

There are many misconceptions and myths concerning copyright. These articles address a few:

Here is a checklist to use for assessing fair use of a copyrighted work

U.S. Code