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Copyright @ Fontbonne University: Fair Use

Questions about Copyright and Fair Use at Fontbonne? Here you can get an overview of the basics and find out where to go to learn more. Also covers public domain, the TEACH Act, peer-to-peer file sharing, and University policy information.

What is Fair Use?

An exemption to the copyright law is found in Section 107 of the Code. Under this “fair use” provision, a reproduction of a copyright-protected work is likely to be considered fair if it is used for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research.

The Fair Use exemption is probably the most important exemption to copyright law for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research. The complexity of fair use and its importance in academia make it imperative that every member of Fontbonne understands how to make judgments concerning fair use.

Copyright Code of Best Practices for Academic & Research Libraries

Fair Use Everyday

What Determines Fair Use?

Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered fair use! You must complete a Fair Use Analysis on each item.

The line between a "fair use" and infringement is not clearly defined and the use of a copyright-protected work requires careful analysis to determine if the use is actually a fair use.There is no specific amount of a work that may be used without permission, and crediting a source does not exempt the user from obtaining permission when warranted.

A Fair Use Analysis considers the following four factors to determine if a use is fair:

  1. The purpose of the use (e.g., commercial vs. educational)
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (e.g., literary or non-dramatic)
  3. The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is fair use)
  4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work

This analysis should be completed for EACH work under consideration for use in a course. See the links in the box to the right for tools to assist with evaluation.

Tools to Help You Determine if Yours is a Fair Use

Use one of these "Evaluators" to help determine whether the proposed use is a Fair Use.

Keep your final assessment with other notes for this course.

Determining Fair Use

The scenarios from New York University Libraries (see links below) are intended to help faculty and students evaluate fair use. These scenarios are illustrative, not exhaustive. 

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