What is Fair Use?

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Fair Use, under the U.S. Copyright Law, permits the limited use of portions of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

Copyright policy at AUS is based on the fair use provisions of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Section 107 of this Act permits the making of multiple copies of copyrighted works for classroom use in some cases.

Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material (i.e. citing) is not a substitution for obtaining permission.

For more information on fair use please visit U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use webpage.

Four Factors for Determining Fair Use

The United States Copyright Act of 1976 identifies four factors for determining fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use. For educational or commercial purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work. Is it a published or unpublished work, fact or fiction? Fair use generally applies to non-fiction;
  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.

All four factors must be considered equally.

Fair Use Checklist

The Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University has created this checklist to help educators evaluate fair use of copyrighted works. It also provides an important means for recording your decision-making process which is critical to establishing your “reasonable and good-faith” attempts to apply fair use to meet your educational objectives.

Fair Use Checklist (Columbia University)