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What is Fair Use?
Fair use is a doctrine of US Copyright Law, allowing for the limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the copyright holder. It permits legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another creator's work using a 4-part balancing test. The tricky part about Fair Use is that the balancing test is subjective and open to interpretation.
The four factors judges consider are:
- purpose and character of your use
- nature of the copyrighted work
- amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
- effect of the use upon the potential market.
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries.
Fair(y) Use Tale
Prof. Eric Faden of Bucknell University (fairly) compiled clips from Disney movies to create a video explaining Fair Use. Double-click the video to see it larger in You Tube. (source: Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison libraries)
What is Copyright?
Do you ever wonder why:
- iTunes charges you $1.29 per song?
- videos in You Tube of recent episodes of GLEE are quickly taken down?
Copyright is a federal law that gives creators of media the exclusive rights to copy, distribute, and mash up the things they create for a limited time. As you work on any assignment that includes digital media (e.g., images, video, or music) it is good practice to make sure you are abiding by copyright laws.
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries
Copyright for Music Librarians
One Author's Opinion about Copyright
Additional Copyright / Fair Use Resources
- Fair Use
From Stanford University Libraires - a thorough explanation of fair use. Contains summaries of court cases including audiovisual, music and art.
- Fair Use Checklist
From Columbia University Libraries - a tool to help you assess your project and fair use.
- Fair Use Evaluator
Helps you better understand how to determine the "fairness" of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code.
- Thinking Through Fair Use
From University of Minnesota Libraries - A tool to "help you organize your thoughts" as you assess whether a particular use is fair or not. Adapted with permission from Columbia University's Fair Use Checklist above.
Check out some more links of interest from a more detailed copyright guide.
Video Copyright Information
Video & Copyright
American Library Association breakdown of copyright and use of video materials.
The Copyright Genie
Give the Copyright Genie a try if you're looking for help in figuring out if a work is covered by U.S. copyright. It an also help by collecting and publishing the results in PDF format so you can save it for your records or get further help from a copyright expert. ( © 2012 Michael Brewer & ALA Office for Information Technology Policy)