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
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries
Fair Use Resources for Other Media
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education
Visual Resources Association: Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research and Study - Fair use of images and visual resources