Copyright and Fair Use

Four factor Analysis

Adapted from the University of Minnesota Libraries Copyright and Information page.

I. Purpose and character of the use
Nonprofit, educational, and personal uses are generally favored fair uses while commercial uses are less likely to be deemed fair use. Although educational use in and of itself will not assure that your use is a fair use, by the same token not every commercial use will fail as a fair use.

II. The Nature of the copyrighted work
Factual works, published works and scientific articles that are factual in nature are more likely to be considered available for fair use than are creative, imaginative, artistic, or unpublished works.

III. Amount and substantiality of the work.
The statute gives no bright line indication concerning how much of a work may be used under fair use but the implication is that use of the whole work is less likely to be considered a fair use. Thus, use of only a small portion of a work is favored. However in some circumstance e.g. uses like research, classroom use, personal use that already weigh in favor of fair use, you may use more of a work. In fact in such cases use of the entire work may be appropriate and allowable as a fair use if using that much is required to accomplish your purpose. A commercial use of the same material in the same amount could weigh heavily against fair use.

IV. Effect on the potential market for or value of the work
Generally the consideration for this factor is whether or not there is some economic harm to the owner of the copyright as a result of your use. Courts have established the availability of permissions or licenses as one of the potential values for copyrighted works. This factor alone, however, cannot determine whether or not a use is fair. Positioned as the fourth factor it is a bit easier to consider market effects. If the first three factors weigh in favor of fair use then market harm should carry less weight even when considering the permissions market, since the market is for permissions that are required. Conversely, if the first three factors are tipping the balance in favor of permission then market harm will carry more weight in the balancing of the factors.

Consider these scenarios in testing your understanding of Fair Use:
1) Using a copyrighted music file in a class presentation.
2) Approximately 60% of a journal article is copied and pasted into a research paper.
3) You use someones photo to market your business.
4) You embed a video into your website and use it for the next ten years.

Fair Use Checklist
Columbia University

Fair Use and Other Exemptions
Princeton University

Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom, Internet, and World Wide Web
University of Maryland University College

MLA Style Citation Generator


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