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Copyright: Fair Use

Fair Use Basics

One of the limitations on copyright is the “Fair Use” doctrine, which can be found in section 107 of the copyright law. This broad and flexible doctrine provides instances for when using copyrighted material may be deemed fair. Each factor must be weighed in determining if fair use applies.

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

Another important factor in fair use is to consider if your use may be transformative. In other words, is your use of the work substantially different from the original intention of the work?

Fair Use Checklist Examples

Have materials that you want to copy, post or distribute? Check out these Fair Use checklists developed by U.S. universities.

American Research Libraries Code of Best Practices

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) created the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (PDF), a clear and easy-to-use statement of fair and reasonable approaches to fair use developed by and for librarians who support academic inquiry and higher education. Find out more about this important guide here:

ARL Code of Best Practices

Fair Use for Students

Fair Use