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This guide focuses on resources regarding copyright, fair use, and the TEACH Act.

"Right" of Fair Use?

Fair Use is not a right.  It is a defense against allegations of infringement that may excuse a use that is technically an infringement.

Fair Use is designed for commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education.

Public Domain

Is It Public Domain?

This means the copyright has essentially expired on the original work. Materials "in the public domain" may be used freely. Here are some tools to help make the determination:


"Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances, especially when the cultural or social benefitsof the use are predominant...the fair use doctrine is described only generally in the law, and it is not tailored to the mission of any particular community. Ultimately,determining whether any use is likely to be considered “fair” requires a thoughtful evaluation of the facts, the law, and the norms of the relevant community."  (ARL Code of Best Practices)


The Four Factors Test is a widely used guide to considering whether a particular use can be defended as "fair use."

The Four Factors


The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit, educational purposes.

  • If the use is intended to derive financial benefit for the user, fair use is unlikely to be indicated.


The nature of the copyrighted work.

  • Factual works are more likely to fall under fair use than creative works.


The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright protected work as a whole.

  • The smaller the percentage of the work used, fair use may be more indicated.

  • However, if even a small percentage that represents "the heart of the work" is used, fair use may be less likely to be indicated.


The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyright protected work.

  • If the use means economic loss to the copyright holder (that is, they would sell copies of you weren't making copies) fair use is less likely to be indicated.




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