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For questions about copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons licenses, please contact Emily Moran, our Instructional Design Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Copyright Act gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute their work. One exception to this exclusive right is found in section 107 of the Copyright law, and is called "the fair use exception."
The fair use exception permits the reproduction of a portion of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission, under certain circumstances. Licenses apply before application of Fair Use or Educational Use.
This is a vitally important exception for education, as it enables students, scholars, and critics to use and reference copyrighted works in their own scholarship, teaching, and critiques.
Provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.
How to Apply Fair Use
Under the “fair use” rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author’s work for commentary and criticism without asking permission. However, “fair use” is open to interpretation. Fair use is intended to support teaching, research, and scholarship, but educational purpose alone does not make every use of a work fair. It is always important to analyze how you are going use a particular work against the following Four Factors of Fair Use.
Factor One: Purpose & Character
What is your purpose in using the material? Are you going to use the material for monetary gain or for education or research purposes?
Factor Two: Nature of the Work
What is the characteristic nature of work – is it fact or fiction; has it been published or not?
Factor Three: Amount
How much of the work are you going to use? Small amount or large? Is it the significant or central part of the work?
Factor Four: Effect
How will your use of the work effect the author’s or the publisher’s ability to sell the material? If your purpose is for research or education, your effect on the market value may be difficult to prove. However, if your purpose is commercial gain, then you are not following fair use.
The four factors are not meant to be exclusive and must be examined together. The statute does not indicate how much weight is to be accorded each factor, therefore, it is advisable to treat the four factors equally.
Primer on Teach Act applications with online students.
Need help determining whether your desired use is eligible for educational or fair use exceptions to copyright law? Use these tools to help you analyze your use and learn more about legal precedent in fair use cases.
This tool will guide you through the educational exceptions in U.S. copyright law, helping to explain and clarify rights and responsibilities for the performance and display of copyrighted content in traditional, distance and blended educational models.
A tool from the American Library Association's to help you determine how "fair" your intended use for a work is. This will provide you with a time-stamped PDF for your records, which could prove valuable in the event that you provide your argument for fair use to a copyright holder.
The Fair Use Index aims to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public by presenting a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use (e.g., music, internet/digitization, parody).