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Intellectual Property are creations of the mind. They are songs, books, scientific formulas, plays, drawings, emails, Facebook posts, or anything that is written, recorded (audio and visual), drawn, invented, or created.

All intellectual property is protected by copyright even if it is not registered or does not have the copyright symbol ©.

Fair Use permits the limited use of the works of others in certain circumstances. These are only general rules rather than definitive ones. This was done to avoid limiting its definition and allowing it to be open to interpretation much like free speech.

Fair Use Factors

You need to consider four factors when deciding if it qualifies for Fair Use.

1. Purpose and Character of Use

  • Is it for commercial use? Will you be paid? If so, it isn't allowed under Fair Use.
  • Is it for nonprofit educational purposes or commercial? If so, it is allowed with Fair Use.
  • Is it transformative, meaning it adds something new and isn't a substitute for the original use of the work? If so, it is allowed with Fair Use.
  • However, remember that Fair Use isn't set rules. Courts balance the purpose and character of the use along with other factors to decide if it is fair or not. In other words, not all educational purposes are fair nor all commercial uses unfair.

2. Nature of the Copyrighted Work

  • Is it a published work? If so, it is allowed more under Fair Use unlike an unpublished work, which would be less supported.
  • Is it factual or nonfiction based? If so, it is allowed more under Fair Use. Highly creative works such as music, movies, plays, novels, works of fiction are less supported.
  • Is the objective educational? If so, it is allowed more under Fair Use.

3. Amount of the Work Used

  • Are you only using a small portion of the work? Fair Use is more likely rather than if you are using a large portion of the work.
  • Are you using an important part or "heart" of the work? If so, it wouldn't be considered Fair Use.

4. Effect of Use on the Market

  • Does the use harm the market (i.e. the buying and selling) of the work? If it does, it isn't Fair Use.
  • Courts consider if the use is harming the market for the original work by displacing sales. An example of an unfair use that would hurt the market of a work would be photocopying a workbook rather than buying it.

Fair Use Resources

Peru State College Library
600 Hoyt Street | Peru, NE | (402) 872-2311