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Fair Use and Copyright in the Classroom: Fair Use

What is Fair Use?

"Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use."

Fair Use Fundamentals (from Association of Research Libraries)

Fair Use Fundamentals

Exceptions Must Meet Four Factors in Fair Use

In certain situations you make make limited use of some copyrighted material without asking for permission or infringing  on another person's rights.  All Four Factors need to be present for an exception.

   The four factors determine fair use:

1.    The use of the copyrighted work takes place in a non-profit or educational setting.

2.   The nature of the copyrighted work is given specific consideration. Creative, rather than informational works  have more protection

3.    The amount, substantiality, or portion used does not detract from the work as a whole. Even if it is a small portion of the whole, but it is the most important, part it will not be considered fair use.

4.   The effect of the use on the potential market of the copyrighted work is not compromised.


Fair Use and the Classroom

  • Copying needs to meet guidelines for
    • Spontaneity.  The need to copy should occur so close to the time of use you do not have time to obtain permission.  If you use an item repeatedly it will not likely be considered fair use. 
    • Brevity. Only a small portion of a work should be used and not the "heart" of the work.
  • Always include a notice of copyright and citation.
  • Instead of uploading PDF documents, provide links on Canvas to articles, images, etc. you want students to use.     
  • Avoid
    • Making and distributing multiple copies of different works that could substitute for the purchase of a book.
    • Copying and using the same work from semester to semester.

Additional Resources

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