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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:
- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- the nature of the copyrighted work;
- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
ALA Resources About Fair Use
November/December issue of Knowledge Quest - blog post
The theme for the November/December 2016 issue of Knowledge Quest, “Copyright and School Libraries in the Digital Age,” centers on school librarians and what you may need to consider when faced with copyright questions, issues, and concerns. Welcome to the world of “it depends!”
Fair Use Evaluator
An online tool that can help users understand how to determine if the use of a protected work is a “fair use.” It helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records.
Copyright Webinar for K-12 Librarians and Educators
Webinar participants learn how to legally provide materials to students; copyright must-knows for librarians and educators; fair use; creation of the copyright law; use of copyright materials in school settings; and copyrighted content in the social media age.
Complete Copyright for K-12 Librarians and Educators by
Publication Date: 2011-04-01
School librarians and educators have specific copyright questions that are often glossed over in larger books on the subject. Now, thanks to best-selling copyright authority Carrie Russell, there’s a resource just for them, offering clear guidance for providing materials to students while carefully observing copyright law.
Supplemental Resources on Fair Use
U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index
The goal of the Index is to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public by presenting a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use (e.g., music, internet/digitization, parody).
U.S. Copyrighted Works that have Expired into the Public Domain
A chart showing the current year, and the status of various copyrighted works and when they become part of the the Public Domain., with explanatory notes.
Stanford Copyright & Fair Use Website
The Stanford Copyright & Fair Use site includes primary case law, statutes, regulations, as well as current feeds of newly filed copyright lawsuits, pending legislation, regulations, copyright office news, scholarly articles, blog and twitter feeds from practicing attorneys and law professors. Its emphasis is on copyright issues especially relevant to the education and library community, including examples of fair use and policies. Useful copyright charts and tools are continually added to help users evaluate copyright status and best practices.
Basic Copyright Principles - Stanford University
A collection of informational sheets to remind the university community of the applicatbility of copyright law at academic institutions like Stanford. Includes: basic copyright principles, fair use doctrine, library copyright considerations, obtaining permissions, internet and electronic medium concerns, DMCA, and additional resources.
Learn About Copyright - Copyright Clearance Center
A resource for educational information about the subject of copyright for the U.S. and around the world. Includes courses, programs, videos, articles, and papers.
Copyright Tips for Programming Librarians: Using Images in Programming Materials
Everyone can be a novice graphic artist using computer technologies to capture appealing designs, images, and photos found on the Internet for use in presentations, Web sites, and promotional materials. Some may pause and wonder, “Is this a copyright problem?” The answer, of course, is “it depends.” There are no hard and fast rules in the copyright law to tell us whether our use of an image is lawful. All we can be sure of is that the copyright law protects exclusive rights of creators or rights holders except when it is considered fair or reasonable for a user to exercise an exclusive right. It is a matter of judgment. Given how you want to use an image and why you want to use it balanced against the economic interests of rights holders is the issue of concern.
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare
This document is a code of best practices designed to help those preparing OpenCourseWare (OCW) to interpret and apply fair use under United States copyright law