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Academic Integrity Information and Resources for SAU Students: Fair Use (Copyright Law)

A guide for faculty, staff, and students on how to promote practices leading to academic integrity campus wide.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a concept embedded in U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. (See Title 17, section 107)

What Determines Fair Use?

The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:

  1. The purpose of the use (eg. commercial vs. educational)*
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is fair use)
  4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work

* Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered fair use!

Fair Use in Academia

The Fair Use Doctrine is probably the most important exemption to copyright protections for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research. The complexity of fair use and its importance in academia make it imperative that every member of the St. Ambrose University community understands how to make judgements concerning fair use.

Review these Common Scenarios posted by librarians at the California State University to help you determine whether or not fair use is appropriate.

Tools to help you Determine Fair Use

  • Fair Use Evaluator: helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and  provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records. Developed by the American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy.