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Copyright and Fair Use: Fair Use

Overview of Copyright Information

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a concept in U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. (See Title 17, section 107)

Fair Use in Academia

The Fair Use Doctrine is probably the most important exemption to copyright protections for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research. The complexity of fair use often makes it difficult to make judgements concerning fair use.

Review these Common Scenarios to help you determine whether or not fair use is appropriate. (Provided by California State University, Long Branch.)

Tools to help you Determine Fair Use

  • Fair Use Checklist:  "Based on the four factors of fair use—purpose, nature, amount and effect. It was created by the Copyright Advisory office at Columbia University.

    The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:

  • The purpose of the use (eg. commercial vs. educational)*
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is fair use)
  • The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work

* Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered fair use!

  • Fair Use Evaluator: helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records.


Fair Use Video

UCNJ LibGuides at Union College