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Copyright Resources: Fair Use

The purpose of this Guide is to provide resources that assist students and faculty in understanding the basics of copyright and the general ways to avoid infringement.

Definition: Fair Use

Fair use is the right, in some circumstances, to use copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it.

  What constitutes a "fair use" of a particular copyrighted work varies from situation to situation.  It is essential to make a "good faith" effort to comply with the "fair use" clause of the U.S. Copyright Law.

Four factors are considered in all fair use evaluations. They are:

  1. Purpose & character: Generally, educational, nonprofit, personal, and “transformative” uses (using the original work for a new and different purpose) are favored as fair uses.
  2. Nature of the work: Generally, published works and factual, non-fiction works are more likely to qualify for fair use.
  3. Amount: Generally, the less of a work you use, the more likely it is to fall under fair use.
  4. Market Effect: Generally, the less economic harm to the creator or copyright owner, the more likely it is to fall under fair use.

These four factors are not meant to be exclusive and must be examined together. The statute does not indicate how much weight is to be accorded each factor;  therefore, it is advisable to treat the four factors equally.

Fair Use Fundamentals

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Fair Use Myths and Facts

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Fair Use Evaluator

Complete the following Fair Use Evaluator and print and file the time-stamped PDF document as a record of your "good faith effort".