Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Oct 24, 2016     Views: 21

According to the United States Copyright Office:

"Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected work in certain circumstances."

There are four criteria that must be considered in determining if a copy may be made of a copyrighted work without obtaining permission:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for a nonprofit educational purpose;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The 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.

With these criteria in mind, nonprofit educational uses are often considered fair use, but not always. The purpose and character of the use needs to be considered, as well as the quantity and quality of the copyrighted material that was used. Legal determinations of fair use are made on a case-by-case basis, so there is no predetermined formula to dictate a percentage or quantity of a copyrighted work that can be used without permission.

Check out our Copyright guide for more information.

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