- Borrow & Request
- Meet & Study Here
- Tech & Print
Fair use is part of copyright law and allows you to use copyrighted materials without permission under certain circumstances. Fair use is particularly solicitous of non-profit, academic uses. Before relying on fair use, you must consider each of the four factors, and how they weigh for or against your use. Use this guide and the fair use worksheet to make your own good faith determination. If you determine your use would likely not be fair use, you can still ask the copyright holder for permission.
Congress listed four factors in the fair use exception to copyright (read the law here). These are intended to be flexible, so to many people they seem uncomfortably vague. Employees of nonprofit, educational institutions have a reduced exposure to statutory damages if they can prove that they made a good faith fair use determination. In recent fair use cases, judges have placed the most emphasis on the first and third factors, essentially boiling the factors down to two questions:
1. Did the use “transform” the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a broadly beneficial purpose different from that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original, in effect substituting for it? (note: classroom copies are still explicitly permitted. In all cases, use only the amount needed for teaching purposes. See Copyright in the Classroom for more information).
2. Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use?
Take a look at the Fair Use Worksheet for a more detailed analysis of each of the four factors.
The following documents have been created by experts in these communities, usually with legal counsel, but they do not have the force of law.
121 The Valley Library
Corvallis OR 97331–4501