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Copyright Center: Fair Use (FY 07-08)

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Fair Use

FAIR USE

Fair Use

The doctrine of fair use, embedded in section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, addresses the needs of scholars and students by mitigating the rights of copyright ownership. However, what constitutes fair use is expressed in the form of guidelines rather than explicit rules. To determine fair use, consider the following four factors [from What Educators Should Know About Copyright, by Virginia M. Helm; Bloomington, IN, Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, 1986]:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the copied material will be for nonprofit, educational, or commercial use. This factor at first seems reassuring; but unfortunately for educators, several courts have held that absence of financial gain is insufficient for a finding of fair use.

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work, with special consideration given to the distinction between a creative work and an informational work. For example, photocopies made of a newspaper or newsmagazine column are more likely to be considered a fair use than copies made of a musical score or a short story. Duplication of material originally developed for classroom consumption is less likely to be a fair use than is the duplication of materials prepared for public consumption. For example, a teacher who photocopies a workbook page or a textbook chapter is depriving the copyright owner of profits more directly than if copying one page from the daily paper.

  3. The amount, substantiality, or portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. This factor requires consideration of 1) the proportion of the larger work that is copied and used, and 2) the significance of the copied portion.

  4. The effect of the use on the potential market of the copyrighted work. This factor is regarded... as the most critical one in determining fair use; and it serves as the basic principle from which the other three factors are derived and to which they are related. If the reproduction of a copyrighted work reduces the potential market and sales and, therefore, the potential profits of the copyright owner, that use is unlikely to be found a fair use.

  This excerpt has been taken from the Bellevue University Copyright Policy.  To view the complete copyright policy click here.

 Fair Use Checklist:

Feel free to print the Fair Use checklist to keep with the item for your own records.

        Click here to view the Fair Use Checklist*.

        Click here to access the PDF version*.

 *We have been granted permission to use these Fair Use Checklists from the Copyright Management Center at Indiana University-Purdue University. 

 Common Fair Use Scenarios:

        Click here to review common instructor scenarios using Fair Use.

 Useful Links:

        Copyright Crash Course

        Stanford University Libraries Copyright & Fair Use

        Copyright Clearance Center and Fair Use

        U.S. Copyright Office and Fair Use