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Copyright and Fair Use

Fair Use FAQ

What is Fair Use?
 

Fair use is a provision of copyright law (Section 107) that says that copies of copyright material can be used for purposes of "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research."  

In order to determine whether use of a work would be considered "fair," the law outlines four factors to consider: 

1. Purpose and character of the use

Factors in favor of Fair Use

Factors against Fair Use

  • The use is for a non-profit

  • The use is for academic/educational/research purposes

  • The use is for noncommercial purposes

  • There is a "transformative" aspect to the use

    • Something new is added (commentary, done in a different format, used in an unusual way) 

  • For-profit or commercial use

  • Not for education

  • The use is not transformative - its is an exact copy of the material

 

2. Nature of the copyrighted work

Factors in favor of Fair Use

Factors against Fair Use

  • The work is factual

  • The work is published 

  • The work is creative (like a novel, movie, or song)

  • The work is unpublished


 

3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

Factors in favor of Fair Use

Factors against Fair Use

  • A smaller portion of the work

  • The portion being used is not considered the "heart" 

  • The work is only going to be used once 

  • A large amount of the work is being used

  • The "heart" of the work is being used

  • The work is going to be used for an extended period of time


 

4.  Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

Factors in favor of Fair Use

Factors against Fair Use

  • Use of the work will not deny the copyright owner of profits

  • The use does not harm existing OR future markets of the copyright owner

  • Use of the work denies the copyright owner of profits

  • The use harms existing and/or future markets of the copyright owner

Evaluating your Materials

Each instance of using a material is unique, and has to be evaluated individually. Using these Fair Use tools is not legal advice. Lone Star Faculty may contact the Lone Star College General Council for detailed or specific questions about fair use and copyright.