Skip to Main Content

Copyright & Intellectual Property: Fair Use

Information about copyright & intellectual property

Fair Use Doctrine

Fair Use is an exemption for copying material for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.” It does not permit the copying of the entire work. 

The library collections are purchased or licensed for non-profit educational use. All library staff and patrons use the measurements of Fair Use described in Section 107 of the U.S. Code Title 17 when they exercise the right to use copyrighted works without asking for the copyright holder’s permission. 

There are four factors used to judge if copying is within Fair Use parameter. Each one carries equal significance. Because Fair Use exemption is interpretive, there are no black and white answers. Each case at hand must be examined carefully, taking the following factors into consideration. 

  1. The purpose of the use (commercial or non-profit, educational)
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (highly creative or factual)
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used (substantial or small amount)
  4. The effect on the potential market (significant or minimum)

The responsibility for a Fair Use analysis firmly rests with each individual. A Fair Use analysis does not have to be conducted if the particular use of an electronic resource is permitted in the license agreement.

More Resources