Offices & Services

Copyright Policy

Fair Use

Fair Use (Section 107 of Title 17)

Reproduction by Libraries of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  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; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

In applying the Fair Use principle to Reproduction by Libraries of copyright-protected materials, it is recommended that a fair use analysis be conducted. For tools to assist you in making judgments of fair use go to Cornell’s Fair Use Checklist.

How much is fair use?

It is not always easy to interpret the application of the Fair Use doctrine as “there are no legal rules permitting the use of specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentages of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all four circumstances listed above.” (Answer to Frequently Asked Question #47, U.S. Copyright Office Web page.) To help clarify the application of Fair Use educational organizations and copyright owners agreed upon a set of Safe Harbor Guidelines. (House Report No. 1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 47 (1976))

The Safe Harbor Guidelines

Safe Harbor Guidelines cover the copying of educational materials such as articles, book excerpts and music. Guidelines in three areas – Digital Images, Educational Multimedia, and Electronic Reserves have been developed but not yet agreed upon.

July 2010 DMCA Exemptions

As of July 2010, DMCA allows for breaking DVD encryption in order to take short clips for purposes of criticism and commentary for noncommercial use, educational use and documentary films. This is provided that creation of clips from DVD fall within the Fair Use guidelines. (EFF - DMCA Rulemaking)