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What is Fair Use?

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(s)?
  • 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 weight 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.

Fair Use Checklist

The fair use checklist is an tool that allows you to determine whether a particular use of a work may constitute a "fair" use under copyright law.

Fair Use 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 (e.g., Canvas).
  • Provide a copyright notice on the first page of the copied material with the warning not to share outside of the class.

Best practice for online sources:

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

Exemptions for Instructors Evaluation Tool

Fair Use Evaluator Tool

​​​​​​​The Fair Use App

Ever wonder when you can reuse music, photo, or film clips from other sources? Find out with New Media Rights' interactive Fair Use App.

Citizen's Legal Guide to Fair Use in Copyright Law

Blog post by New Media Rights explaining fair use and giving examples