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Copyright and Fair Use: Fair Use

What is Fair Use?

What is Fair Use?

What Determines Fair Use?

Fair use gives LIMITED permission to to use or reproduce copyrighted material, as long as the user is acting in good faith. Determining fair use is broken down into four major factors:

1) The purpose and character of the use. How are you using it? Using someone else's work for commercial use is not okay.

2) The nature of the work. What type of work is it? Fiction or nonfiction? Published or unpublished? Generally, published nonfiction, and some fiction are considered to fall under fair use.

3) The amount of work used. What portion of the entire work are you using? 10%? 50%?

4) The effect of using the work. If you used or reproduced this work, how would it affect the original creator? Would they be losing potential royalties or sales because of it? If you profit from using someone else's work, or they lose money because of it, this is not considered fair use.


Source: "Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Teachers and Librarians." United States Copyright Office: A Department of the Library of Congress. August 24, 2014. Accessed May 6, 2015.  

A Fair(y) Use Tale

Fair Use Guidelines

"Okay, my needs fall under Fair Use. I'm using it for educational purposes, I'm not profiting from it, and the copyright holder is not losing money because of it. Hooray! That means I can use as much of the work, for as for long as I need, right?"

Not necessarily...

The four factors of Fair Use, similarly to Copyright Law itself, are intentionally left very broad to allow flexibility for the user. However, this causes misinterpretation. To help educators accurately determine whether their use of a work falls under Fair Use, the Consortium of College and University Media Centers created the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia in 2002, and were updated by the UW©opyright Connection in 2011. These are GUIDELINES, not laws, to help guide educators on how Fair Use is interpreted. Below are measurements to help you determine how much of a work is deemed 'Fair Use':

Media Format Recommended Maximum Usage
Numerical Data Sets 10% or 2,500 fields or cells
Video 10% or 3 minutes
Text 10% or 1,000 words
Poems of less than 250 words: 3 lines
Poems of more than 250 words: Up to 250 words; 3 excerpts by a poet; 5 excerpts by different poets in the same collection
Audio Up to 10% or 30 seconds
Images 5% by the same artist or photographer; 10% or 15 images from one published work

Source: UW©opyright Connection, 2011

Are you using more or a work than what is specified in these guidelines? Then you may not fall under 'Fair Use.' Look for other ways avoid copyright violations: