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Copyright & Fair Use For Faculty

Fair Use

One of the most commonly misunderstood copyright concepts is “fair use”. Section 107 of the US Copyright law allows for certain exceptions to an author's exclusive copyright. 

Fair use is determined on a case by case basis using the following four factors:

  • Purpose of the use
  • Nature of the work
  • Amount of the work
  • Impact on the market

These factors must be considered together and weighed equally in order to make a fair use assessment.  While educational use is an important consideration, it does not "trump" other factors that need to be considered when using material authored by other people.  Amount being copied, presence of digital license, and nature of the work used (how creative is the work?) and how it is being used (distributed/effect on market) must be considered equally when using material.  A good explanation of these factors can be found at