What is Fair Use?

Fair use provides for the public to use portions of copyrighted material "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" without infringing on the copyright holder's rights.

17 U.S.C. § 107

It was developed in 1976 to allow use of material in an educational environment. This is an umbrella term that should not be considered all encompassing as other laws and restrictions may over-rule.

The Four Factors

The four factors that judges use to determine if a use falls under fair use are:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a 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; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

17 U.S.C. § 107

For another perspective of Copyright and Fair Use using Disney movies as an example, please view this 10 minute video.