Fair Use Rights

The fair use provision of the copyright law allows the making of copies for ‘purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.’ Fair Use requires the consideration of four factors:

  1. Purpose: Is the use non-profit or commercial?
  2. Nature: Is the work mostly facts or is it creative?
  3. Amount: How much is used – a small part, or nearly all?
  4. Effect: Will the use have a negative effect on the commercial market for the work?

Applying “fair use” factors

Because “fair use” is a guideline based on several factors, several organizations have created checklists or worksheets to help people and organizations apply the factors to see if the use falls under “fair use:”

Personal fair use

A person may make one copy for their personal information or entertainment as long as it is not for commercial gain and is not plagiarized.

More information

Fundamentals of Copyright and Fair Use, July 2007 (Office of General Counsel, California State University) (PDF document)
Brief guide covering the fair use exemption, including a fair use factors checklist.
Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials (University of Texas)
Outstanding “fair use” site for academics created by Georgia Harper, J.D. and “fair use” guru.
Fair Use (Stanford University)
Another outstanding “fair use” site. Logical design of web page makes it easy to get to specific information.
The Conference on New Technologies Use produced the “Guidelines for Photocopying under Interlibrary Loan Arrangements”. The Cal Poly Library and other CSU Libraries use these guidelines.
Exceptions for Instructors — Use of Materials with the Classroom
Online tool that can help instructors determine if the use of a protected work is a “fair use.”
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (PDF document)
Created by librarians, this identifies eight situations that represent the library community’s current consensus on acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials.