The Carnegie-Vincent Library of Lincoln Memorial University encourages all of its patrons to comply with United States Copyright Law (Title 17, United States Code). Section 107 of the code deals with fair use, which specifically addresses how copyrighted works may be used in education and is explained below.
The doctrine of fair use, embedded in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, addresses the needs of students and scholars. However, instead of specific rules, what constitutes fair use is expressed in the form of guidelines. The following four factors should be considered when making a determination of fair use:
The purpose and character of use including whether the use is for non-profit, educational purposes or commercial purposes. Uses for non-profit, educational purposes are more likely to be considered fair use than commercial purposes. However, not all educational uses are considered fair use.
- The nature of the work.
When weighing the nature of a work, the use of non-fiction is more likely to be considered fair use than use of fiction. A work that is out of print is also more likely to be considered fair use than one that is still in print. In addition, published works are more likely to be considered fair use than unpublished works since authors of unpublished works have the right to control the first public appearance of a work.
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
This factor requires consideration of two things:
1) The quantity taken in relation to the entire work
2) The significance of the portion taken
The amount of a work used is a major factor in determining fair use. However, even if you only use a small portion of the work but it is the “heart” or the most significant portion of the work, it is less likely to be fair use.
- The effect of use on the potential market.
Reproduction in place of purchasing a work deprives the copyright owner of income and/or reduces a potential market. This factor is regarded as the most critical one when determining fair use. Violation of this factor is likely to trigger a lawsuit.
Some works that are not copyright protected include:
Most, but not all, United States Government publications
Works that are in the public domain, including works whose copyright has expired (to find when works pass into public domain, click here)
Works that lack originality (e.g. the phone book)
Facts, ideas, procedures and concepts
Freeware (software available for free download)
The fair use doctrine is intentionally broad and flexible. Therefore, it may be difficult to make the distinction between fair use and infringement. Each of the four factors is relevant and must be weighed against each other to determine fair use. If it is unclear whether a particular use is permitted under fair use, permission should be obtained from the copyright owner.
To obtain permission to use a work, first identify the publisher. Usually, publishers are the copyright owners and their websites often give instructions for obtaining permission. Another option is the Copyright Clearance Center (http://www.copyright.com), an online service for obtaining permission used by many academic institutions.
For further information on obtaining copyright permission, see:
Copyright education tools (Fair use evaluator and Exceptions for Instructors) http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=3207
Copyright Management Center (Indiana University, Purdue University)
Obtaining Copyright Permission (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
United States Copyright Office
Stanford Copyright & Fair Use Center
University of Texas Crash Course in Copyright
Note: This document is intended to provide guidance with regard to copyright law and fair use, and should NOT be considered as the final authority regarding copyright and fair use. Any conclusions regarding such issues can only be made by the United States Copyright Office and the United States Copyright Law, Title 17 of the United States Code.