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Copyright for Faculty

Fair Use Doctrine

The Fair Use Doctrine allows exemption to copyright protections for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

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)

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!

Tools to Help Determine Fair Use

Can I Use It? Map:  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, Copyright Advisory Network.


17 U.S.C. § 107

U.S. Copyright Office. (n.d.). Circular 21: Reproduction of copyrighted works by educators and librarians. Retrieved from

Charleston Southern University Library