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Copyright Overview: Fair Use

An overview of copyright and related issues.


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What is Fair Use

Fair use is a concept embedded in Title 17, section 107 of U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. Under this section fair use is determined by four factors:

  1. The purpose of the use (e.g. commercial vs. educational)*
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is fair use)
  4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work

* Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered 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. The complexity of fair use and its importance in academia make it imperative that every member of the scholarly community understands how to make judgements concerning fair use.

Legal Disclaimer

This is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you would like legal advice regarding copyright,  your author's rights, or copyright clearance, contact GSU Legal Affairs.