Fair Use Explained
What is Fair Use?
Fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law allow use of copyrighted materials on a limited basis for specific purposes without the permission of the copyright holder.
|FACTOR||WEIGHING TOWARDS FAIR USE|
|Purpose of use||Nonprofit, educational, scholarly or research use; Transformative use: repurposing, recontextualizing, creating a new purpose or meaning|
|Nature or type of work||Published, fact-based content|
|Amount Used||Using only the amount needed for a given purpose; Using small or less significant amounts|
If there would be no effect, or it is not possible to obtain permission to use the work
It is necessary to weigh all four factors to decide whether a fair use exemption seems to apply to a proposed reuse. Courts take a holistic approach -- they do not simply add up a positive or negative for each factor.
Judges have tended to focus on two questions that collapse the four factors:
- Does the use transform the material, by using it for a different purpose?
- Was the amount taken appropriate to the new purpose?
To help support a fair use case for an image:
- Use lower resolution or thumbnail versions where possible;
- Place the image in a new context or use it for a new purpose; and
- Use only the parts of the image needed for the purpose
In addition to fair use, consider Using images that are openly available for reuse
Why Copyright and Citation Matter
Properly citing sources protects against plagiarism.
- Plagiarism is using someone else's work without giving them credit. This is a form of academic dishonesty that is considered a serious offense and is handled by university processes.
- Properly citing a work is essential in an academic community but does not protect against copyright infringement.
Following fair use principles protects against copyright infringement.
- Copyright infringement can occur when using someone else's copyrighted work without permission or without a solid fair use case, and is a legal matter handled by the courts.
To make a fair use assessment:
- Review the four factor test
- Watch the Fair Use Overview
- Consult the Codes of Best Practice in Fair Use
Special Considerations for Images
Photographs of people may involve rights of privacy or publicity, state and/or federal laws which limit the use of a person's likeness. Consider:
- Using photographs of people taken in larger public scenes
- Avoiding photographs of famous people, or people engaging in private activities
- Being aware that Publicity rights limit commercial uses
Photographs of works of art may involve the rights of the work's creator/copyright holder. Consider:
- Using photographs of 2-D public domain works -- these are usually not protected by copyright
Buildings designed after Dec. 1, 1990 are copyrighted. Consider:
- Using photographs taken from a public place
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