Guidelines: Determining Fair Use

Certain limited use of copyrighted materials for teaching, criticism, commentary, reporting, scholarship, and research is considered a "fair use" and does not constitute an infringement of copyright. The law sets forth the following four factors to be used in determining whether a particular use is a fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

What constitutes fair use, however, remains difficult to determine. Copying for educational purposes is often considered a fair use, provided the person doing the copying has acted fairly and in good faith. However, fair use applies only to non-profit copying.

To help determine if your proposed use of the materials would be considered a "fair use" under copyright law, use the Fair Use Checklist with your Fair Use analysis.

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

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