Under the “fair use” rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author’s work without asking permission. However, “fair use” is open to interpretation. Fair use is intended to support teaching, research, and scholarship, but educational purpose alone does not make every use of a work fair. It is always important to analyze how you are going use a particular work against the following four factors of fair use.
The Fair Use Evaluator can help you decide if you are using copyrighted materials "fairly" under the U.S. Copyright Law.
Exceptions for Instructors assists in identifying if an intended use meets the requirements set out in the copyright law.
U.S. Copyright Office provides a fact sheet
University of Texas provides a summary of Fair Use.
Washington State University has an outstanding discussion about the Fair Use Doctrine and how to apply it to your teaching. In particular, WSU addresses the need to juggle the factors of fair use. Congress has refrained from dictating "bright-line rules" about copyright, instead inviting educators to apply the four factors on a case-by-case basis and to consider the factors together "in light of hte purposes of copyright," not separately in isolation.
The following two charts can provide helpful information on deciding if you are using copyrighted material fairly.
The "Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions", also known as the "Classroom Guidelines" came about after representatives of educators, authors, and publishers met to negotiate an understanding of the new 1976 copyright law, specifically targeting copyright issues in the classroom. These Guidelines sought to clarify the ambiguous Fair Use Exceptions. The following are merely guidelines and are not law:
Guidelines for Print Materials:
Guidelines for Distributing Copies
Guidelines for Using Materials Found on the Internet
Guidelines for Using Multi-Media
Multimedia works are created by combining copyrighted media elements such as motion media, music, other sounds, graphics, and text. It is recommended that you use only small portions of other people's works.
What is considered a small portion?
The following guidelines allow you to use multimedia without permission of lawfully acquired copyrighted works.