Copyright Information

Considering Fair Use

Under United States Copyright Law, Fair Use is the doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.

Please consider the following points when assessing if your use of a copyrighted material falls under 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 lose sales?

  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


Copyright and Fair Use Evaluation Tools

  • Fair Use Evaluator
    • This is a great tool that can help you evaluate whether something falls under fair use or not. It also includes a fair use tutorial to better help you understand the guidelines.
  • Reproduction of Copyrighted works for Educators and Librarians
    • This is a set of guidelines, sometimes referred to as the Kastenmeier Guidelines, that were created by an ad-hoc committee. These are considered the best practices for adhering to fair use.
  • Fair Use Checklist
    • This is a simple tool, created by the University of Georgia, addresses the 4 main categories of copyright fair use. It will help you weigh whether a resource can be copied and distributed under fair use or not.
  • ARL Copyright and Fair Use Infographic
    • This Graphic representation from the Association of Research Libraries, presents information about copyright issues and rules within academic research libraries.

For more information about copyright law and the Library, please visit this guide.