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Copyright and Fair Use  

Guidelines and resources for faculty
Last Updated: Oct 13, 2013 URL: Print Guide

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The Basics on Copyright and Fair Use


What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by federal law to any original work of authorship, published or unpublished.  Copyright protects written, visual, artistic and musical work, and offers the original creators the right to sell, reproduce, perform, display or distribute their work.  Copyright holders have the right to permit the use of their work by others, for free or for a fee. 

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What is Fair Use?

Fair Use is a principle of federal copyright law which provides exemptions in the case of commentary and criticism.  Students and teachers can often use copyrighted work without permission under Fair Use principles.  There are four factors taken into consideration when determining if the Fair Use exemption applies:

1. What is the purpose of your use of the work?

2. What is the nature of the copyrighted work?

3. How much of the copyrighted material are you using?

4. How does your use effect the potential market for this work?

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