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Copyright and Fair Use

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a concept embedded in U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. (See Title 17, section 107)

Fair use as explained by the US copyright office

What Determines Fair Use?

The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:

  1. The purpose of the use (eg. commercial vs. educational)*
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is fair use)
  4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work

* Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered fair use! Fair Use Evaluator

Tools to help you Determine Fair Use

  • Thinking through Fair Use:  guides users through the process of determining if a use is fair. Developed by The University of Minnesota Libraries.
  • Fair Use Evaluator: helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and  provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records. Developed by the American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy.
     
  • Fair Use Checklist: Organized based on the four requirements for Fair Use, this resource describes actions or scenario that faculty and students may experience when confronting copyright issues.  A checklist next to each scenario determines the degree to which fair use may be applied.  Developed by Kenneth Crews, Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office.

 

Fair Use in Academia

The Fair Use Doctrine is probably the most important exemption to copyright protections for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research. The complexity of fair use and its importance in academia make it imperative that every member of Seton Hall University understands how to make judgements concerning fair use.