Fair Use is an exception to the rights held by copyright owners to be used in the pursuit of research and scholarly progression. Fair Use is also a commonly misused term as it is considered to be a gray area of copyright law. Understanding Fair Use is essential in properly utilizing it and properly using Fair Use is essential to scholarship and academia.
Fair Use checklists are helpful in determining if your intended use of material covered by copyright would indeed be covered under this doctrine.
Columbia University provides a widely-used Fair Use Checklist that can be used each time you are determining if Fair Use applies to your intended use of a copyrighted work. The checklist was created by K. Crews.
To utilize a checklist, mark all boxes that apply to your intended use of the item. You will then be able to see overall the intentions of your project and if using the material is in favor of Fair Use or in opposition. Using checklists is also an easy way to record your decision making process when including copyrighted materials in your research/classroom projects.
The United States Code, Title 17, Section 107 states:
Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by a reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include –
1 – the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
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.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
Visit the Center for Social Media to find more Fair Use information and tools as it relates to social media.