Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
What is Fair Use?
Fair use is a concept embedded in U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. (See Title 17, section 107)
This circular contains basic information on some of the most important legislative
provisions and other documents dealing with reproduction by librarians and
Tools to help you Determine Fair Use
- Fair Use Analysis Tool: guides users through the process of determining if a use is fair. Developed by The University of Minnesota Libraries.
- Fair Use Evaluator: helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records. Developed by the American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy.
What Determines Fair Use?
The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:
- The purpose of the use (eg. commercial vs. educational)*
- The nature of the copyrighted work
- The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is fair use)
- The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work
* Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered fair use! For a deeper concept of the four factors, refer to the ebook, Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators : Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions on the Copyright Law tab of this LibGuide.