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What is Fair Use

Under the “fair use” rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author’s work without asking permission. However, “fair use” is open to interpretation. Fair use is intended to support teaching, research, and scholarship, but educational purpose alone does not make every use of a work fair. It is always important to analyze how you are going use a particular work against the following four factors of fair use.

  1. What is your purpose in using the material? Are you going to use the material for monetary gain or for education or research purposes?
  2. What is the characteristic nature of work – is it fact or fiction; has it been published or not?
  3. How much of the work are you going to use? Small amount or large? Is it the significant or central part of the work?
  4. How will your use of the work effect the author’s or the publisher’s ability to sell the material? If your purpose is for research or education, your effect on the market value may be difficult to prove. However, if your purpose is commercial gain, then you are not following fair use.

The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The Fair Use Evaluator can help you decide if you are using copyrighted materials "fairly" under the U.S. Copyright Law.

Exceptions for Instructors assists in identifying if an intended use meets the requirements set out in the copyright law.

U.S. Copyright Office provides a fact sheet.

University of Texas provides a summary of Fair Use.

The Fair Use Checklist, hosted by the Columbia University Libraries, was created by Kenneth D. Crews (formerly of Columbia University) and Dwayne K. Buttler (University of Louisville).

A Fair(y) Use Tale - A video from the Documentary Film Progam at Stanford Law School

Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.

The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School

 


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St. Johns River State College, an equal access institution, prohibits discrimination in its employment, programs, activities, policies and procedures based on race, sex, gender, gender identity, age, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic information or veteran status. Questions pertaining to education equity, equal access or equal opportunity should be addressed to the College Title IX Coordinator/Equity Officer: Charles Romer, Room A0173, 5001 St. Johns Avenue, Palatka, FL 32177; (386) 312-4074; CharlesRomer@sjrstate.edu Anonymous reporting is available at SJRstate.edu/report. Inquiries/complaints can be filed with the Title IX Coordinator/Equity Officer online, in person, via mail, via email or with the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, Atlanta Office, 61 Forsyth St. SW Suite 19T10, Atlanta, GA 30303-8927. | St. Johns River State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Questions about the accreditation of St. Johns River State College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, by calling 404-679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (www.sacscoc.org).