Skip to Main Content

Faculty Library Resources: What is Fair Use?

What is Fair Use?

The Fair Use doctrine permits reproduction and other uses of copyrighted works without the permission of the owner of the work under certain conditions for limited purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship and research. Fair Use depends on a reasoned and balanced application of four factors:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether it is for commercial or nonprofit educational purposes
  2. the nature of the copyrighted material
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole
  4. the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted material.

Weighing the Fair Use factors is often difficult and at times subjective.  In general, Fair Use only permits use of small parts of copyrighted materials during a limited period of time. To evaluate Copyright Fair Use for your course, utilize Pima Community College’s Copyright Fair Use Checklist.

Examples of uses likely to qualify as Fair Use include:

  • quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations;
  • use of short portions of a copyright-protected material in a parody; or
  • a summary of an address or article, which may include quotations of short passages of the copyright-protected work.

Fair use does not include mass copying of material for repeated classroom use, use in a commercial activity, use that results in profit, entertainment as opposed to educational use, or use that does not give credit to the original author.