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Copyright for Educators: Fair Use

The Fair Use Doctrine

The Fair Use Doctrine is outlined in U.S. copyright law, Title 17, section 107. It recognizes that certain uses of copyright protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder for use.

In academic settings, fair use allows for the use of copyrighted materials for teaching and research. The fair use doctrine is broad and flexible; however, there are still limitations and judgments must be made in determining if use of a copyrighted work falls under fair use.

Is it Fair Use?

The fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law lists the following four factors to be used in determining if use of a copyrighted work falls under fair use:

  1. The purpose of the use (educational vs. commercial)
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount of the material used (Less is more! Greater use/copies = more likely to not be fair use)
  4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work

Fair Use Resources

CSU Fair Use Factors Checklist
One-page checklist from the California State Universities to help users determine if a use favors or opposes fair use.

Fair Use Evaluator
Developed by the American Library Association, this tool can be used to collect, organize, and document information to support a fair use claim.

Fair Use Checklist
From Colombia University, this tool walks you through the steps to determine if your use of a resource falls under fair use.

Thinking Through Fair Use
Developed by the University of Minnesota Libraries, this quiz helps to determine if your use of a resource falls under fair use.