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Academics & Copyright: Fair Use

The information in this guide has been gathered from the American Library Association, Library of Congress, United States Copyright Office, Copyright Clearance Center, Miami Dade College, and Columbia University Library.

Fair Use

Fair use is an exception to the exclusive protection of copyright under American law. It permits certain limited uses without permission from the author or owner. Depending on the circumstances, copying may be considered "fair" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research. The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

 

 

Factors of Fair Use

According to sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code), factors that need to be considered to determine if something is fair use include:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

  • The nature of the copyrighted work

  • 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

Useful Tools for Teachers

Frequently asked questions for teachers and also more detailed information on Fair Use:‚Äč