What is “Fair Use” in Copyright?

Fair use allows you to use portions of a copyrighted work without obtaining permissions from the author or rights holder; we use it all the time in our academic and educational pursuits. Fair use lets you assess your risk of copyright infringement when using copyrighted works in your teaching or presentations. This is done by weighing four specific factors related to your use of the material, and the characteristics of the material itself. All four factors must be weighed.

  1. The purpose and character of the use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the work
  4. The effect of the use on the potential market for or the value of the work

It’s often helpful to use a fair use checklist when determining whether or not your use is fair. Check out The Fair Use Questionnaire from UCSD for an excellent walkthrough of the fair use assessment. More detailed information on the four factors of fair use can be found in the Copyright at UCSF LibGuide

Visit the Teaching and Research page for more information or to connect with a copyright librarian.

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