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Copyright: The Law and Guidelines

Fair Use

What is Fair Use???

Fair Use: Section 107 of the U.S. Code

Fair use is the use of copyrighted material, without the holder’s permission, for purposes such as teaching, preparation for teaching, scholarship, research, criticism/comment/parody and news reporting. However, the law also stipulates criteria by which to determine if a use falls within the concept of fair use. Therefore, use of a copyrighted material for educational purposes is not automatically fair use under the law.

Fair use is an important right to use copyrighted works in research and classroom teaching.

The law provides four factors to determine if a use constitutes fair use:

  1. The purpose of the use should be of a non-commercial character such as use for non-profit education. If the use adds to the original in some creative way (like commenting on a poem or making a parody), or is considered transformative, the fair use argument is stronger. 
  2. The nature of the material used. The use of factual material is more likely to qualify as fair use; creative work like music and art gets stronger protection. Unpublished work also gets more protection.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used. Use only that amount of the original work that is necessary to accomplish the educational purpose. The  law does not specify  a specific percentage of a copyrighted work that would be permissible as fair use, but guidelines suggest one chapter from a book, or one poem from a book of poems, or one article from a journal. 
  4. The impact of the use on the market value of the copyrighted material. To fall within fair use, the use cannot substitute for purchasing available copies of a copyrighted work. Damaging the market for the copyrighted material weighs heavily against fair use.

More information on Fair Use can be found in the Fair Use of Copyrighted Works pamphlet published by CETUS.

The Fair Use doctrine grants faculty and staff at the University at Albany privileges regarding the use of copyright materials for purposes of research and education. It is important to understand that educational use does not automatically constitute fair use. Faculty and staff need to be familiar with the factors that determine fair use of a copyrighted material before using such in teaching and research under the fair use doctrine.

Resources

U.S. Copyright Office: Can I use someone else's work??  A list of Fair Use FAQs published by the U.S. Copyright Office.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries This is a code of best practices in fair use devised specifically by and for the academic and research library community. It enhances the ability of librarians to rely on fair use by documenting the considered views of the library community about best practices in fair use, drawn from the actual practices and experience of the library community itself.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in CommunicationThis document is a code of best practices that helps U.S. communication scholars to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant.

The Copyright Page The Intellectual Property Law Server has been online since March 1997 and serves approximately 15 million pages a year. The Server provides information about intellectual property law including patent, trademark and copyright. Resources include comprehensive links, general information, space for professionals to publish articles and forums for discussing related issues.

Copyright and Fair Use: Stanford University LibrariesThis webpage produced by Stanford University contains primary materials, current legislation and cases, resources on the internet, overview of copyright law.

Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Search for Copyright on this site and retrieve information from many kinds of U.S. law resources.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry This code of best practices is meant as an aid in interpreting the copyright doctrine of fair use as it applies to creating and quoting poetry. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances, especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant.

Viral Resources Association: Statement on the Fair Use of Images For Teaching, Research and Study The VRA is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to furthering research and education in the field of image management. 

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video This document is a code of best practices that helps creators, online providers, copyright holders, and others interested in the making of online video interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education This document is a code of best practices that helps educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant.

Society for Cinema and Media Studies' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators Cinema Journal 47, No. 2, Winter 2008. Scholarly article reviews the history of use of media in the classroom and online

Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use Documentary filmmakers have created, through their professional associations, a clear, easy to understand statement of fair and reasonable approaches to fair use. Fair Use is the right, in some circumstances, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it.

Fair Use Materials For Dance-Related Materials  This Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-related Materials, produced by the Dance Heritage Coalition, clarifies what librarians, archivists, curators, and others working with dance-related materials currently regard as a reasonable application of the Copyright Act's fair use doctrine, where the use of copyrighted materials is essential to significant cultural missions and institutional goals.