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Copyright: Fair Use

This is a guide to copyright information, best practices and resources for the Colby College Community.

Tools to Analyze a Copyright Question

Other Limitations on Exclusive Rights of Copyright Holders

Fair Use Definition

"Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use" is found in Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107 of the U.S. Code. Fair Use of a copyrighted work limits the exclusive rights of copyright holders (e.g. authors, artists, creators), outlined in Section 106, for purposes such as:

  • criticism
  • commentary
  • news reporting
  • teaching
  • multiple copies for classroom use
  • scholarship
  • research
  • parody or other transformative purposes

Codes of Best Practice in Fair Use & Trusted Copyright Sites

Fair Use Four Factors + Transformative Use

In determining whether the use of a work is a Fair Use, consider these four factors:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

You must consider all four factors together when evaluating the fair use of a copyrighted work.

Important Fair Use litigation since the 1990s shows that judges return again and again to two key analytical questions:

  • Transformative Use: Did the use "transform" the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a broadly beneficial purpose different from that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent as the original.
  • Nature and Amount of Material Used: Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use.

Source: "More information on Fair Use". U.S. Copyright Office

Your Copyright Liaison

Laine Thielstrom's picture
Laine Thielstrom

Contact me by email or chat (send me a Google Hangouts invite). Or let's talk about your research or information need on Google Meet or Zoom!
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