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Copyright: Fair Use

The Four Factors

Copyright law provides some exceptions to the rights of copyright owners. Fair Use is one such exception but does not apply to all educational uses of copyrighted materials. It is your responsibility as the user of copyrighted material to weigh the four factors of Fair Use to determine if your use may be considered fair. Note, however, that a Fair Use analysis does not protect you from risk, but rather proves you were acting in good faith should you be accused of infringement. 

  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.

17 U.S. Code § 107 - Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use | U.S. Code | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from 


Fair Use Video

Important Questions to Consider

Consider the following when assessing your use:

1. Are you transforming the copyrighted material into something new and innovative or are you creating material that could be considered a replacement for the original?

2. Is the copyrighted material essential to your use? For example, will use of the material increase the students' understanding of the course or is using a specific clip of a video integral to a documentary? 

3. How much of the copyrighted material is essential to your use? Can the amount used be reduced without affecting the outcome?