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Copyright: Fair Use

Basic copyright information for faculty, staff, and students of Texas State University.

Fair Use Checklist

Legal Disclaimer

This guide is designed to share information on copyright and related topics. This guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.


What is it?

Fair use is a statutory right in the United States that allows us to use works protected by copyright without requesting permission or paying licenses.

Fair Use Factors

Four factors are considered in all fair use evaluations:

  • Purpose and character of the use - how are you using the borrowed work?
  • Nature of the work - what kind of work are you borrowing?
  • Amount/substantiality of the work - how much are you borrowing and are you borrowing the most important part?
  • Impact on market (or potential market) - is your use of the work a substitute for purchasing or licensing it?

The four factors don't have equal weight. The fourth factor carries more weigh than the others. The first factor can be a deciding factor if the use is "transformative" which means that the use gives the work new meaning.

Best practices

Under the right to fair use, you can use someone else's work without asking permission.

Best practice for distributing copies:

  • Link to University Libraries content from your course site
  • Provide a copyright notice on the first page of the copied material with the warning not to share outside of class

Best practice for online sources:

  • Link rather than upload. You can embed videos, but not images.
  • Use openly licensed material when possible. If using copyrighted images and graphics (including cartoons and PowerPoints), request permissions from the creator.