What is Fair Use?

 The concept of Fair Use may be found in the U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107

Under the “fair use” rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author’s work without asking permission. However, “fair use” is open to interpretation. Fair use is intended to support teaching, research, and scholarship, but educational purpose alone does not make every use of a work fair. It is always important to analyze how you are going use a particular work against the following four factors of fair use.

  1. What is your purpose in using the material? Are you going to use the material for monetary gain or for education or research purposes?
  2. What is the characteristic nature of work – is it fact or fiction; has it been published or not?
  3. How much of the work are you going to use? Small amount or large? Is it the significant or central part of the work?
  4. How will your use of the work effect the author’s or the publisher’s ability to sell the material? If your purpose is for research or education, your effect on the market value may be difficult to prove. However, if your purpose is commercial gain, then you are not following fair use.

Fair Use Evaluator

link to Fair Use Evaluator tool

Fair Use Evaluator

This tool can:

  • Help you better understand how to determine the "fairness" of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code.
  • Collect, organize, & archive the information you might need to support a fair use evaluation.

Fair Use Checklist

Fair Use Checklist

For background and information on using this checklist see the Introduction to the Checklist

Code of Best Practices for Fair Use

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) presents a clear and easy-to-use statement of fair and reasonable approaches to fair use.

Fair Use and Electronic Reserves

Guidelines from the American Library Association (ALA)