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Copyright for Libraries: Fair Use

A resource to help librarians understand copyright issues.

What is Fair Use?

Please note that ALA cannot give legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact an intellectual property attorney.

The Fair Use Doctrine provides for limited use of copyrighted materials for educational and research purposes without permission from the owners. It is not a blanket exemption. Instead, each proposed use must be analyzed under a four-part test.

"Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use" (Section 107) offers a set of factors to consider when using copyrighted work for teaching or research. Specifically, the factors include:

  1.  the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

ALA Resources About Fair Use

Supplemental Resources on Fair Use