Weigh four factors:
- Purpose and character of use
- Is it merely a copy of the original? If so, it may not be fair use.
- Does the work offer something beyond the original or transform it in some way? If it is altered significantly, used for another purpose, or appeals to a different audience, it is more likely fair use.
- Is the use for nonprofit or educational purposes? If so, it is more likely fair use. However, there are limitations to what an educator can do with copyrighted material.
- Nature of copyrighted work
- Is the work published or unpublished? Unpublished works are less likely to be considered fair use.
- Is it out of print? If so, it is more likely to be fair use.
- Is the work factual or artistic? The more a work tends toward artistic expression, the less likely it will be fair use.
- Amount and substantiality of portion used
- If amount used approaches 50% of the entire work, it is likely to be an unfair use.
- Will it adversely affect the author's economic gain? Using the "heart" or "essence" of a work is less likely fair use.
- Effect of use on potential market for copyrighted work
- The more the new work differs from the original, the less likely it is an infringement.
- Does the work appeal to the same audience as the original? If so, it is more likely infringement.
- Does the new work contain anything original? If it does, it is more likely fair use.
Rules for instructors:
- Use must meet the tests of brevity and spontaneity.
- The need to copy should occur closely in time to the need to use the copies. If you use something for one semester, it is likely to be viewed as fair use. If you use something repeatedly, it is not. If you intend to use the same material from semester to semester, then you must seek permission from the copyright holder.
- Making multiple copies of works that could substitute for the purchase of books, publisher's reprints, or periodicals.
- Copying the same works from semester to semester.
- Copying the same material for several different courses at the same or different institutions.
- Copying more than nine separate times in a single semester.
Is information on the Internet considered public domain?
- Always assume a work is copyrighted.
- Find out if the author of a work (e.g. video, audio, image) provides usage guidelines. If explicit guidelines exist, follow them.
- Whenever feasible, ask the copyright owner for permission. Keep a copy of your request for permission and the permission received.
A note about "special works"...
- These are "Works that combine language and illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and at other times for a general audience."
- Special works should never be copied in their entirety.
- An excerpt of no more than two pages or 10 percent, whichever is less, is allowed.
- The use of the copies should be for one course at one school.
- The copies should include a notice of copyright acknowledging the author of the work.