One of the more important limitations on copyright protection is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law. 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.
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.
(Extracted from "Fair Use", United States Copyright Office, used under 17 USC § 105)
The information presented in this guide is for educational purposes, to help members of the campus community become better informed on issues of copyright and Fair Use. This guide does not and cannot provide legal advice. Links to sources are provided so the reader may become familiar with a variety of perspectives on intellectual property issues. These links do not constitute endorsement or recommendation of those sources. Legal advice must be sought for any specific question of law. The information presented here must not be relied on as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.
How do you determine if a use us "fair use?" Unfortunately, fair use is determined by case law, the decisions of judges on specific cases. Over time these decisions provide some indication of what may or may not be "fair use".
These resources can help you understand how the concept of "fair use" has been used and interpreted:
Copyright and Fair Use overview from Stanford University. This excellent resource includes information on fair use, the public domain, and summaries of fair use cases.
"Georgia State Copyright Case: What You Need To Know—and What It Means for E-Reserves" by Meredith Schwartz, Library Journal, May 17, 2012
Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians, from the U.S. Copyright Office
Cornell University's Checklist for Conducting a Fair Use Analysis
What You Can Do, a chart from the Association of Research Libraries describing how you can use certain types of materials.
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (Association of Research Libraries)
In order to adhere to copyright law, including Fair Use provisions, the Library recommends that faculty limit physical course eserves to the following:
If you want to use an item for more than one semester, please seek permission from the copyright holder, or ask the Library to acquire the item for its collection.
See Course Reserves for Faculty for more information
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