Copyright Law: Fair Use Guidelines

Following are general standards of “Fair Use” that must be considered when evaluating whether materials are within the legal limitations of “Fair Use.”


Purpose of the Use – How will the materials be used, and by whom?

  1. The purpose of using the materials must be for private study, scholarship or research.
  2. Materials must become the property of the person making the copies and are not to be distributed to others.

Nature of the Work – What is the format of the work?

  1. The law of fair use applies more narrowly to highly creative works.
  2. Duplication of informational materials prepared for public consumption (like newspapers, news broadcasts) is more likely to be considered fair use.

Amount of the Work – How much of the work will be used?

  1. Single copies of written materials are permissible, within limits:
    • One chapter of a book
    • One story or essay from an anthology
    • One graphic or picture
    • One article from a magazine or journal
  2. As the amount duplicated increases, fair use decreases; if more copies than what is listed above areneeded, either purchase the item or request permission.
  3. If it is determined after a reasonable search that a copy cannot be obtained at a fair price, it ispermissible to copy an entire work or a substantial part of a work

Effect of the Use on the Market for the Original – Will the intended use cause the copyright holder to losesales?

  1. Copies may not be distributed or sold to others
  2. No materials may be from works intended to be “consumable,” such as workbooks, exercises, test booklets and answer sheets, etc.
  3. Copies may not have been used to create or replace anthologies, compilations, or collective works