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Copyright, Fair Use & Creative Commons Licensing for Faculty

A LibGuide on the basics of Copyright for faculty

Introduction to "Fair Use" of Copyrighted Materials

"Fair use" protects educators and allows them to use copyrighted materials a bit more liberally in order to serve the greater societal good of education. This means that educators and librarians working in a non-profit, higher educational context can use such materials, but only once they determine that the use is a "fair use", based on a combination of 4 factors. 

  1. Purpose and character of the use (teaching is more likely to be seen as "fair use" than commercial enterprise)
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work (fact-based are more favored than artistic works; published works are more favored than unpublished; out-of-print are more favored than in-print works for "fair use" eligibility)
  3. Amount of the work being used (the smaller the section of work being used, the less likely it is to be an issue... many guidelines suggest less than 10% of a work should be used)
  4. Market effect (uses that don't decrease the potential market value of the work are more likely to be seen as "fair use" than those that compete with the market)

Whoever is putting the item on reserve or in an online environment designed around the course will have to make a "fair use" decision based on these concepts. It's helpful to make a note about why the decision was made for future reference, in case it's ever needed.

Reserves, Digital Reserves & "Fair Use" at the Library

One of the issues we deal with when posting course reserve materials into a digital environment is that of copyright (unless the materials are in the public domain or are considered "open" / Creative Commons-license See our Research Guide on Open Educational Resources).
Use the following links to learn about putting items on reserve, to see the guidelines regarding "fair use" of copyrighted materials, and to add items to our digital reserve system.

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