The Fair Use exemption allows for the use of copyrighted materials without obtaining permission first, as long as the use can be considered fair. The determination of whether or not use is fair involves an analysis of four factors. Quoted from Section 107 of the Copyright Act:
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
- (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
- (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.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
To determine if your use of copyrighted material is fair, we recommend using the Fair Use Checklist included at the bottom of this page. This checklist has been provided by Harold Evans, Associate Vice President Legal and Research at the University of Arkansas System.
After you have made a Fair Use determination, it is best practice to keep documentation of your analysis and use.
Even though permission from copyright holders is not required for use of material that falls under Fair Use, it is best practice to provide citation information/attribution for any material used in your course created by someone else.
The resources below provide more information on the Fair Use exemption. Several include additional tools helpful in conducting your own fair use analysis.
U.S. Copyright Office More Information of Fair Use: This site provides more details on the four factors used in a fair use analysis:
U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index: The Fair Use Index is a searchable index of judicial decisions in court cases where use of copyright materials have been determined to be fair or not fair. For each included decision, the U.S. Copyright Office "have provided a brief summary of the facts, the relevant question(s) presented, and the court’s determination as to whether the contested use was fair. You may browse all of the cases, search for cases involving specific subject matter or categories of work, or review cases from specific courts." Fair use is evaluated on a case-by-case basis in courts, and reviewing these previous judicial decisions may help you evaluate whether or not your intended use of copyrighted material is fair.
University of Texas Libraries Copyright Crash Course/Fair Use: The Fair Use section of UT's copyright guide provides information on fair use and on conducting your own fair use analysis.
Stanford Libraries Copyright & Fair Use: Stanford Libraries comprehensive guide on Copyright and Fair Use is very helpful for understanding copyright basics, fair use, and more.
American Library Association: Copyright Tools: The American Library Association maintains this site with information on tools like the Fair Use Evaluator, and the Exceptions for Instructors eTool.
There are also Books about Fair Use available in the UAMS Library.
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