Is your use a fair use?

Scholarship & Research Materials

Is your use a fair use?

The Fair Use exemption considers certain uses of copyright works to be fair uses – that is, to not be copyright infringement. Fair use applies to “purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research” (17 U.S.C. § 107).

Fair use determinations must be made for each intended use and are dependent on a balance of the Four Factors of Fair Use. These are:

  1. Purpose or character of the use
  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

Tools like the Fair Use Checklist, a roadmap that can help you understand the individual factors and how different uses favor or oppose fair use, the Fair Use Evaluator, which provides the opportunity to describe the use and provide context, and the Codes of Best Practices in Fair Use, which put forth standards of fair use within a discipline, are available to help with fair use determinations.


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