Copyright at NPS

Fair Use Myths & Facts

Fair Use Myths & FactsMany myths persist about fair use, an essential right that allows the use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances. Read "Infographic Debunks Common Myths about Fair Use" from Association for Research Libraries (ARL).

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a concept embedded in U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. (See Title 17, section 107)

What Determines Fair Use?

What is Fair Use?

“Fair use” is an exemption within the copyright law (17 U.S. Code Section 107) that grants you the right to quote or reproduce very small portions of copyrighted materials for educational, non-profit, and personal use without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder.  “Fair use” is not specifically defined; instead, each use is evaluated by weighing four factors:

The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:

  1. Character of the use (for NPS, typically non-profit educational use)
  2. Nature of material to be used (non-fiction vs. works of literature, drama, criticism)
  3. Amount and substance of work to be used (up to 10% of whole)
  4. Effect of the use on the potential market (economic impact)

Fair Use or Not? Common scenarios

The scenarios below are intended to help faculty and students evaluate Fair Use. These scenarios are illustrative, not exhaustive. 

The examples deal with situations involving:

Fair Use in Academia

The Fair Use Doctrine is probably the most important exemption to copyright protections for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research. The complexity of fair use and its importance in academia make it imperative that every member of the NPS research community understands how to make judgements concerning fair use.

Review these Common Scenarios to help you determine whether or not fair use is appropriate.

Tools to help you determine Fair Use

Best Practices in Fair Use for Research and Educational Uses