What is Fair Use?

fair use logoThe Fair Use Doctrine (section 107 of U.S. Copyright law) is a part of the Copyright Act of 1976 and is based on a history of judicial decisions that recognized that some unauthorized use of copyrighted materials were "fair uses."

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. It also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

For help determining if your use of copyrighted materials is a fair use the USF Libraries has created a checklist linked below.  Please feel free to contact your copyright librarian with questions or to contact USF General Counsel to obtain legal advice.

Some other links that you may find useful:

Fair Use Best Practices and Guidelines