Saturday, October 4, 2008

What is Fair Use?

A Simple Guide to Fair Use

Fair use refers to exceptions in copyright law that allow use of information for educational purposes.The government wants to protect authors but still allow educators to use information.

Interestingly however, fair use is not a right given to people it is a defense used in court in defense of infringement.

How do I know what I can use?

There are four factors that must be considered. We are trying to balance the rights of the author of the material with our rights of free speech.

Factor #1 Use
Part 1: you must be nonprofit public or private school
Part 2: you can use copyrighted information if it is for criticism, commentary or news reporting.

Factor #2 Nature of the Copyrighted Work
Part 1: Fact or fiction? Facts cannot be copyrighted. Part 2: Published or not published? Published material tends to be protected more because the author had no intention of making the material public.

Factor #3 Amount of Work Used
The less you use the better. How much is too much varies from case to case however you should not use so much of copyrighted material that the "essence of the work" is compromised.

Factor #4 Effect of Use on Market, Value of Work
Are you depriving the author of profit?

Information for this post :
Simpson, Carol. Copyright for Schools: A Practical Guide 4th Edition. Worthington: Linworth Books, 2005.


Brandi W. said...

These are great guidelines to help those who are new to school media centers. As educators, we feel that we should use the materials available in whatever way is necessary to help our students learn. However, something that was mentioned is important to consider. Are we depriving the author of profits? Many of the materials we use are to assist learning, not for entertainment purposes. So, the chance that students would go out and buy the materials used is, in my opinion, highly unlikely.

Aimee said...

Angie, the blog looks great! I was impressed with your straightforward information on Fair Use. I'm worried that when I present my copyright presentation to my staff that they will laugh me out of the room, so I'm looking for clear and reasonable approaches to getting my staff on board with copyright compliance.

Angie Andre said...


Thank you, I tried to really simplify it so I could understand it easier. I am also thinking into the future and presenting this information to others. I think if we make it simple for others to understand they will come on board. Also we need to figure out how to stress the importance of copyright, oh yeah and that it's illegal too. ;-)

Chris said...

I, too think that teachers will just disregard any information we present about copyright. If they have been violating copyright all along, either knowingly or unknowlying, I don't think they are going to change practices easily.

BethAnn Murphy said...

Hi Angie,
The blog is lookin' good!
I found an article in the Library Literature and Information Science database entitled, "Copyright- What's Wrong and What's Not", and it provides a list of websites with info about fair use.
You might want to check it out ;-)

Cathie Ruble said...

I am interested in the term "essence of the work". These rules all seem so vague. Who is to say what the exact essence is of anything. It is no wonder why fair use is so hard to follow. It is almost like trying to write a paper in APA format. You always feel like you are missing something. ;-)

Brandy said...

I agree with Cathie. Especially, since it seems like the rules sort of keep changing with new technologies that make using or borrowing peices of works easier and easier...It is hard to say where fair use ends and copyright infringement begins!

Angie Andre said...

Cathie I totally agree with you. I feel like the guidelines are purposefully vague. I guess, unfortunately, judges will be deciding the "essence" if an issue comes to trial. That's a shame.