Skip to Main Content

Fair Use & Copyright: Home

A guide for instructors on how to apply fair use to classroom materials

From the US Copyright Office: "Copyright literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work." Copyright exists from the moment of creation and does not require a copyright notice. According to the ALA, fair use is "limited use of copyrighted materials for educational and research purposes without permission from the owners. It is not a blanket exemption. Instead, each proposed use must be analyzed under a four-part test."

Need Help?

Do you have additional questions or concerns about fair use and copyright? Schedule an appointment with a librarian to talk through options for your classes.

Additional Resources

Steps for Finding Resources that are Fair Use Compliant

Permanent Solutions

  1. Use a permalink to an electronic resource accessible through library subscriptions. You can locate resources through our database search or journal finder.
  2. Create a course reserve to provide ongoing access to a print resource, searchable in our NOBLE catalog.
  3. Link to resources available through Open Access or Open Educational Resources.
  4. Provide copies of your own work, or, if you know the writer of the source, contact them to receive permission for ongoing educational use.

Temporary Solutions

  1. Under fair use, create a copy for one course for one semester that is accessible only by students in that class. This solution is effective if you need to provide a current example that will change from semester to semester. This is not an effective solution if you need to reuse the source beyond this semester.
  2. Contact the owner of the source to ask for permission to use the source for ongoing educational use.
  3. Purchase a copyright clearance. Because copyright needs to be purchased for each use (semester) and each student, this option is often not financially viable for a long-term solution.

Violations of Fair Use

  • Sharing a PDF of an article on Canvas for more than one semester.
  • Copying worksheets from a single textbook that you bought.
  • Copying more than 10% of a book to share with students.
  • Showing a whole film as a reward at the end of the semester (for entertainment, not education).