Copyright Information

What is Fair Use?

As stated in section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code:

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.

What does "the nature of the copyrighted work" mean?

The nature of the copyrighted work refers to whether a work is artistic and creative or whether it is factual in nature. A factual work would be viewed more favorably than an artistic and creative work under the "nature of the copyrighted work" factor of the Fair Use analysis.

If the book I want to use is out of print then there is no effect on the market, right?

The fourth factor of the Fair Use analysis, "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work," has been treated by the courts as one of the most important factors. Even if a work is out of print there can still be an adverse effect on the potential market, as a publisher may wish to explore other distribution options for the work in the future.

Maintain a record of your Fair Use analysis with the Checklist for Fair Use.

Copyright Guidelines

The Weltner library has not set any minimum guidelines to be followed, but instead encourages faculty members to take a liberal approach to fair use while still operating within the law. However, Classroom Guidelines do exist and, while many feel these guidelines are overly restrictive, a faculty member can feel confident that he or she is not violating copyright law when these guidelines are followed. The following guidelines are from the University of Texas Copyright Crash Course.

[It should be noted that neither the Mulitimedia Guidelines nor the Digital Images Guidelines were approved by the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) participants. However, they still prove helpful for those seeking guidance with regard to the creation of multimedia projects or the use of digital images.]

Obtaining Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials

If the use of a work falls outside Fair Use, and the work is not in the public domain, then you must obtain copyright permission.

More information on obtaining permission to use copyrighted materials can be found at:

Copyright questions can be directed to

The information contained in this site is for general guidance only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is not a substitute for consultation with a professional legal advisor.