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Scholarly Communications

In 2003, ACRL defined scholarly communication as "the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to to the scholarly community, and preserved."

What is fair use?

The Fair Use exemption attempts to strike a balance to protect the interests of copyright holders and public interest. Copyright includes the "bundle of rights" which amount to “all rights reserved” and protects the copyright holder (or holders) exclusively. Creative Commons Licenses endeavor to expand the use of creative work and research through six licenses which explain how the work can be used in specific ways. Fair use allows for limited use of copyright-protected materials. These uses include for education, criticism, news-reporting, parody, commentary, etc. However, just because a use is "educational" does not necessarily mean the use will be considered fair.

There are four factors that judges consider in copyright infringement cases. The four factors are purpose (as in yours), nature (of the work), amount of work used (or if it’s the heart), and the market effect. These factors are not ranked and would be weighed and balanced by a judge when determining fair use. Exemptions can only be determined in a court-of-law and on a case-by-case basis (i.e. you'd have to be sued and win to know for sure whether your use is considered fair). Because fair use isn't a strict set of guidelines, each case is nuanced and builds a body of fair use exemptions that aren't always consistent. That’s what makes copyright law so tricky (as well as fun).  

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." Since the responsibility lies with the individual, it is important to conduct a fair use analysis for each use of copyright-protected material use. Tools for analysis and evaluation can be found below:

Additional Resources


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

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