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The Fair Use Section of the Copyright Law – Title 17 Ch1. § 107

Most of us haven’t looked at the copyright law, Title 17 of the US Code. Chap. 1 Section 107 is worth reading because it helps us understand what copyright protected materials we can use without asking permission within our Fair Use rights. Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 7 of the copyright law http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107:

§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, 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.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

There are many web sites and publications that help us understand the four factors:

When we use the work of others in activities as faculty members and students, we should be aware that we may be infringing on their copyright. Don’t be naïve about copyright! There are many very useful web sites available that can provide much more detail and practical advice about copyright and fair use. The list above and the Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Fair Use Resources page on the University Libraries' website are good places to start.

Blog post created by Lorre Smith