Fair Use

Section 107

For reference, see § 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

The provisions of Fair Use are contained within section 107 of the US Copyright Law. When certain conditions are met, Fair Use allows the use of copyrighted material to be reproduced by parties other than the copyright holder. Please consult Section 107, Title 17 of U.S. Code for the complete details of the Fair Use exemption, but in short, it allows for the reproduction of copyrighted materials to be used in criticism, teaching (including multiple copies), news reporting, scholarship and research.

Section 107 is very brief and does not outline a set of cut-and-dry rules. Instead it offers 4 guiding principles that should be considered when determining whether an item falls under the provisions of Fair Use:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The code itself acknowledges that the determination of Fair Use can be challenging. It is important to note that there are no specific regulations that indicate the percentage of the original work that can be used for an item to fall within Fair Use. Instead, the previously stated guidelines must be examined in their entirety and the conclusion of Fair Use is determined based on those.
To assist you in making a determination of Fair Use, please consult this checklist from Columbia University.

Complete the checklist and print a copy for your records. In the event a Fair Use decision is challenged, this record of your rationale will serve as documentation of your efforts to adhere to the Federal Copyright Code.
More information on Fair Use can be found on the United States Copyright site Fair Use page.

Section 110 (1)

This section of the Copyright Act details the exemption of certain performances and displays as pertains to fair use in a classroom setting. The full text of Section 110 can be found at: For reference see, § 110: Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:
(1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;


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