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Copyright Permission: Educational fair use

Is it fair use?

When weighing whether use of a copyrighted source falls under educational fair use guidelines as defined by Section 107 of the Copyright Law of the United States of America consider these four factors:

  1. purpose
  2. nature
  3. amount
  4. effect

‚ÄčComplete the following questionnaire and analyze the results to help determine if your proposed use is justified under fair use interpretation.

*When photocopying materials for course content, consider Factor 4 carefully. 

FACTOR 1: PURPOSE
Pro Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted toward fair use.)

  • Is it for teaching purposes?
  • Will a not-for-profit institution use it for an educational purpose?
  • Will the use of the source further scholarship, criticism or comments on a work, or the reporting of news?
  • Will the new work build upon, rather than simply restate, the content of the original work?
  • Is access to the new work or the reproduction of the original work restricted?
  • Is the new work a parody of the original work?

Con Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted against fair use.)

  • Is the new work created for a commercial purpose?
  • Will the authors of the new work profit from its use?
  • Is the new work used for entertainment?
  • Is the author of the new work attempting to avoid compliance with copyright law?
  • Does the new work fail to acknowledge the original author?

FACTOR 2: NATURE
Pro Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted toward fair use.)

  • Has the original work been published?
  • Is the content factual/nonfiction?
  • Does the use further educational purposes?

Con Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted against fair use.)

  • Is the original work unpublished?
  • Is the original work a creative entity such as a song, painting, or poem?
  • Is the content fiction?

FACTOR 3: AMOUNT
Pro Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted toward fair use.)

  • Does the new work incorporate the smallest possible portion of the original work necessary to accomplish the desired educational goal?
  • Does the new work avoid duplicating the central essence of the original work?

Con Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted against fair use.)

  • Is most of the work or the entire work reproduced?
  • Does the new work duplicate the central essence of the original work?

FACTOR 4: EFFECT
Pro Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted toward fair use.)

  • Does the user possess a legal copy of the original work?
  • Does the reproduction create little or no effect on the market for the original work?

Con Fair Use (Affirmative answers to these questions are weighted against fair use.)

NOTE: When using a work for educational distribution or class readings (other than for a one time spontaneous use), positive responses to con factors below indicate that a copyright violation is likely to occur.

  • Is the user repeatedly circulating or distributing copies of the original work without obtaining copyright permission?
  • Is any product like the new work marketed by the owner?
  • Is a license for the use of the work or access to the work available for sale?
  • Can the new work be sold in place of the original work?
  • Does the new work diminish the market for the original work?
  • Has the author of the new work purchased any affordable use license or permission?
  • Are a large number of copies reproduced?
  • Is the new work available to the general public?
  • Was the new work used over and over again allowing access to quoted or derived ideas on a large scale?

Owens Library staff members are not lawyers or legal experts. Please consult a legal authority with specific questions.

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