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Copyright Guide : Fair Use

Fair Use Evaluator

Fair Use Fundamentals

In this video, find out what "fair use" is and how it applies when you are looking to use a copyright-protected work. Learn the factors that go into evaluating whether or not a case meets fair use standards. Created by the U.S. Copyright Office.

Fair Use

Fair use is a feature in United States copyright law that that allows for certain, limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the copyright holders.  It is of particular import to instructors using copyrighted material educational purposes in a classroom setting.

From page 27 of the NCCC Policy Manual: 

Fair Use: Niagara County Community College does not condone a policy of copying instead of purchasing copyrighted works where such copying would constitute an infringement under the copyright law, but it does encourage its employees to exercise good judgment in serving the best interests of students in an efficient manner. It is the policy of the college that the user (administrator, faculty, or staff) secure permission to reproduce copyrighted works whenever it is legally necessary, i.e., when such copying is beyond the limits of fair use.

In determining "fair use" four factors shall be considered:

1. The purpose and character of the use including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit education purposes;
2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion of the material 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 copyright work. The copyright law applies to all forms of copying whether it is undertaken at a commercial copying center, at the college central or departmental copying facilities, or at a self-service machine.

To learn more please refer to the U.S. Copyright Office's and Copyright Clearance Center's pages on fair use. 

For a more in-depth look, check out the Stanford Copyright & Fair Use Center's web page on fair use.

Online Resources

Much of this guide has been adapted from the University of Texas Libraries' Copyright Crash Course created by Georgia Harper. The guide can be found here: 

Niagara County Community College. Henrietta G. Lewis Library. 3111 Saunders Settlement Rd., Sanborn, NY 14132 | 716-614-6786