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Copyright Resource Guide

A guide intended to provide information and guidance related to copyright for the FCC Community.

Making Sense of Fair Use

Fair Use is the most used exemption to obtaining copyright permission. However fair use is not a right, and does not completely protect you from litigation.  It is, instead, a legal defense that can be used to argue that you did not violate copyright.  

When deciding if a use would likely be considered fair, you must weigh all four copyright factors that determine if copyright was violated. Those four factors are:

1. Purpose and character of the use

2. Nature of the copyrighted work

3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in the work in relation to the copyright-protected work as a whole

4. Effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyright-protected work

NOTE: Using copyrighted materials for education is just one of the factors looked at, and alone it is not enough to qualify a use as fair. The chart below illustrates the four factors and what kinds of use are more or less likely to be considered fair:

Fair Use Image that shows the four factors and how they are weighed. Image also a link to an accessible PDF version

Created by the University of Minnesota Libraries. Used under CC BY-NC 2.0 license. Click image for original document.

Resources to Help Determine Fair Use

The tools below can be help you determine if you can use a copyrighted work under Fair Use. If you decide that your use of the work is fair, we recommend keeping a copy of your fair use justification for your records. 

Basic Guidelines for Individual Copying and Printing

You are allowed to make copies of copyrighted materials for yourself under fair use. However to make sure the use stays fair, all three of the following criteria must be met:

1) it is one reproduction of an article from a periodical or a small part (less than 10%) of any other work;

2) the reproduction becomes the sole property of the person reproducing it;

3)  the reproduction will not be used for purposes other than private study, scholarship, and research. 

For basic guidelines for classroom handouts and course packets, see the Classroom Use section of this guide.

Frederick Community College prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship status, color, creed, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, mental or physical disability, national origin, race, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status in its activities, admissions, educational programs, and employment.