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             Fair Use                                      

            Information for faculty                 


The Fair Use Doctrine provides for limited use of copyrighted materials for educational and research purposes without permission from the copyright holders.

In accordance with the fair use doctrine, one has the right to use another’s copyrighted work without permission in a way that adds new meaning or purpose. 

Courts consider four factors in determining whether a use is fair. These four factors are:

  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; usually factual or nonfiction is more likely to be considered fair, versus creative works, except for criticism 

  3. the amount and substantiality of the use; and

  4. the effect on the market for the underlying work; or impact on sales of the original work.

It is important to note that none of these factors alone is definitive. All four must be considered. Also, there are no definitive guidelines outside of what has been determined by Courts on specific cases.

Use of materials for teaching, research, criticism, commentary, or scholarship could be argued for Factor 1 (purpose and character) as fair use, if the other factors also apply. 

Useful links:

FAQs for Professors:

Code of Best Practices

Fair Use Evaluator

Fair Use Checklist

Fair Use Cases: Index of cases by the U.S. Copyright Office: 


SCF Libraries Services:

Please contact one of the SCF Librarians if you need assistance with finding materials that are appropriate for you to use in your courses.  

SCF is currently developing its “Open Educational Resources (OER)” program, and the SCF Libraries are part of it, including services like having textbooks or materials on Reserve and providing access to supplementary licensed content that can be embedded in Canvas courses or used in the classroom. We will be happy to work with you. 



Watch the following video by Harvard Law School's The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Disclaimer & Credits


The information on this page was retrieved from the Fair Use guides in the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries websites, and it is intended for informational purposes only.

The video was retrieved from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

The information on this page is not offered as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney or SCF Legal Counsel for advice concerning your specific situation.