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Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines

A brief overview of Copyright, Fair Use, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the TEACH Act.

What is Fair Use?

The Fair Use Doctrine is probably the most important exemption to copyright protections for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research.

However, not all use is fair use, simply because it occurs in an academic setting.

The four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

Tools to help you determine Fair Use

Fair Use Analysis Tool: guides users through the process of determining if a use is fair. Developed by The University of Minnesota Libraries.

Fair Use Evaluator:  helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and  provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records. Developed by the American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy.

Exception for Instructors e-tool:guides users through the educational exceptions in U.S. copyright law, helping to explain and clarify rights and responsibilities for the performance and display of copyrighted content in traditional, distance and blended educational models.

NYU Academic Copyright Scenarios The scenarios are intended to help faculty and students evaluate fair use.The examples deal with situations involving: Printed Materials, Video Recordings, Multimedia Projects, Distance Education, and Electronic Course Reserves.

Fair Use in Seven Words

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