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Library Tutorials: How-Tos

Fair Use

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a legal doctrine (Title 17 U.S. Code, Section 107) that permits a copyrighted work to be used without the permission of the copyright holder(s). This exemption is only applicable for specific uses of a copyrighted work, including:

  • Criticism;
  • Comment;
  • News reporting;
  • Teaching, including multiple copies for classroom use;
  • Scholarship; and
  • Research.

It it important to understand that the use of a copyrighted work for any of these purposes, including educational, does not automatically qualify as fair use. Instead, four factors must be weighed to determine if fair use applies.

The Four Factors

What Determines Fair Use?

Fair use is determined on a case-by-case basis by equally considering the following four factors:

  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.
More Resources:

Additional Copyright Exemptions for Academia

Are there Other Copyright Exemptions for Academia?

In addition to fair use, U.S. copyright law provides academic institutions several other copyright exemptions. This includes:

Web Resources (Fair Use)


The information presented in this guide is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, please contact the DCCCD General Counsel.

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