What is Fair Use?
- Fair use (Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright code) provides parameters for the legal use of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder.
The law mandates that four factors be considered
in determining whether or not a use is fair.
[link to law]
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether the 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 work as a whole; and
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The Low Down:
- Broadly speaking, a "fair use" is one where the socially beneficial results of the use outweigh the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.
- However, the distinction between "fair use" and infringement
may be unclear and is not always easily defined.
- For example: an educational purpose does not necessarily make a use fair, nor does using a portion of a copyrighted work for commercial purposes necessarily make it unfair.
- Only a court can ultimately determine if a use is fair and this can only happen if a case is litigated. Nonetheless, the copyright code, legal precedents & fair use educational materials can provide us considerable guidance in making fair use evaluations and/or avoiding litigation.