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Provides basic information about copyright, fair use, the public domain, and offers links to websites to learn more about copyright issues.

What is fair use?

Fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose. The transformative purposes include the following: to comment upon, report the news, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. These types of uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner.

Citing from Section 107:

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of 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

  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or 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.

Fair Use Tools and Resources

The following links can provide helpful information on deciding if you are using copyrighted material fairly.


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