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Copyright, Plagiarism and Intellectual Property: Fair Use

What is Fair Use?

Fair use allows for copyrighted works to be used or reproduced without infringement on copyright for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.

Fair Use Resources

Fair Use

Fair Use is a Concept Not a Statute

Though recognized, fair use provisions in the copyright law are not definitive, but if you err on the side of caution there is less chance of a lawsuit and less chance of losing the lawsuit.

Fair use can be qualitatively examined by weighing four factors:

  • The purpose and character of the use (educational v. commercial).
    • Students and teachers using a copyrighted work for an assignment, lesson or project are more protected under fair use.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work (factual v. imaginative).
    • Facts are not protected under the copyright law so the use of factual works is more accepted
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used (small % v. whole).
    • Using a small portion of a work rather than all of the work is favored under fair use.
  • The effect of the use on the market for the copyrighted (can't purchase v. on the market).
    • Fair use is more likely to apply when the copyrighted work is being used for a limited time with a small group of people. For example, if the work is used during an in class lecture rather than in a presentation that is posed online.

If You Are Not Sure it is Fair Use

When in doubt, obtain permission or don't include it. Instead, refer to it, link to the Library's copy of it, or use a small portion of it. If it is not available electronically consider finding another reading/example that may be linked to through the online databases provided by  Auraria Library.

Fair Use Quiz and Guide

This helpful graph from the MIT Fair Use Quiz shows how each test factor for Fair Use may weight toward or against Fair Use of an image.

What is Fair Use?