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 17 U.S.C. § 107)
The fair use exception allows use of copyrighted materials without obtaining permission, based on a four-factor analysis. Each factor is given equal weight, and the type of technology used to perform or display the material is irrelevant to the outcome. The goal is to achieve a balance between the rights of the copyright holder and the rights of the public.
The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:
The Fair Use Doctrine is probably the most important exemption to copyright protections for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research. The complexity of fair use and its importance in academia make it imperative that every member of the University of Richmond understands how to make judgements concerning fair use.
Review these Common Scenarios to help you determine whether or not fair use is appropriate.