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.
General Fair Use Resources
- Stanford's excellent web page on Fair Use - Extensive site that includes overview of copyright, permissions, and fair use, as well as case opinions, dockets, legislation, regulation, and articles
American Library Association's "Fair Use Evaluator" - Helps with fair use evaluations under U.S. Copyright Code
Dr. Kenny Crews' (Columbia University) "Fair Use Checklist" - Simple checklist to assist with fair use evaluations
Fair Use Resources for Teachers
- The American Library Association's discussion of the TEACH Act - Provision of copyright law that provides for use of copyrighted works in the traditional classroom.
Fair Use Resources for Faculty
Fair Use Resources for Other Media
Visual Resources Association: Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research and Study - Fair use of images and visual resources