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The University is legally required to establish policy stating that faculty, staff, students, and community members must obey all state and federal laws respecting the copyrights and trademarks of others.

The University of Colorado Boulder encourages the Fair Use of copyrighted materials in support of its academic and research mission and strives to provide clear guidance to faculty, students, and staff who wish to use copyrighted materials in their teaching and research.

Fair Use

Fair Use is the use of copyrighted content without the expressed permission of the copyright holder under certain circumstance. Whether a use is considered Fair Use is determined on a case by case basis. There is no “bright line” universal rule for what constitutes Fair Use.

Four factors are used to analyze whether a use is Fair Use:

  • The purpose and character of use, including whether the use is for commercial or noncommercial purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work; factual works, for example, are more likely to fall under fair use than highly artistic or creative works.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

All four of these factors should be weighed simultaneously when evaluating a fair use case.

See the ARL Code of Best Practices for examples of Fair Use in higher education.

Fair Use Resources

Copyrighting Your Own Work

In the United States, a work is protected by copyright as soon as it is "fixed in a tangible medium" (assuming it is an original expression). Copyright registration of works created within the United States is not required for protection, but the author/creator may wish to officially register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office, as registration is necessary before you can bring a suit of copyright infringement, and timely registration gives you the right to claim statutory damages in an infringement suit.

You may also wish to consider licensing your work instead through  Creative Commons (CC). A CC license allows you to keep all your rights and inform users under what conditions you allow they to use your work.

Visit Obtain Copyright Permission for more information about using copyright materials.

For copyright help, email