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