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What is fair use?

What is fair use?

Through the concept of fair use, non-profit educational institutions may use copyright-protected materials for teaching and training without paying royalties or permission fees. However, there are not clear-cut rules for what is or is not fair educational use. Instead, there is a set of criteria (below) that must be considered when claiming fair use. Those who want to claim fair use must consider all the criteria and not meet just one or two of them. The concept of fair use is complex, making rendering decisions on whether a specific use of a copyrighted work is permissible or not difficult.

Per Section 107 of the Copyright Act , the four statutory factors of fair use are:

  1. The purpose and character of the proposed use (such as commercial versus not-for-profit, for purposes of criticism, comment, reporting, etc)

  2. The nature of the work being used (such as factual versus creative)

  3. The amount of the work being used (such as an entire book or a passage, but even tiny amounts can be problematic if they are considered the essence of the work)

  4. The effect of the use upon the market for the copyrighted work (such as if you are making copies when they can readily be purchased)

There are some cool tools for evaluating fair use linked below.

While many know about fair use, it's important to understand that it is used as a defense if you are brought to trial over a copyright infringement suit and legal charges have already been assessed. W&M's Policy and Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Works indicates that "the responsibility for following best practices in fair use of copyrighted materials lies with individual faculty and not with any college or contracted service-provider that may provide printing and duplicating services on behalf of the College."

How can I decide if my use is Fair Use?

Tools for Evaluating Fair Use

Tools for evaluating materials to determine fair use for scholarship and teaching:

How do you decide if your use of copyrighted material is actually "fair use"?

How do you decide if your use of copyrighted material is actually "fair use"?

(from The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)