University Libraries

Thinking Through Fair Use

Even after you've fully educated yourself about fair use (the information on our site is just a start), it can be difficult to remember all the relevant issues when you're looking at a potential use you'd like to make. We've developed one tool that may assist you in your thought process. The Office for Information Technology Policy of the American Library Association also steps you through the process with a similar interactive tool.

How to Use This Tool

Fair use is very context-dependent, so only you can determine if your use is fair. You may find it helpful to consult with an attorney or other specialist for further input. This form does not substitute for such consultation.

This tool can help you organize your thoughts around the issues, although it does NOT tell you whether a proposed use is fair or not, and does NOT provide any kind of legal advice. It simply helps you structure your own reflections about the fair use factors, and provides a record that you did consider relevant issues. No computer processes your form - the end result is only a printable record of what you entered.

Remember that no single factor is decisive of fair use, and on any given factor, you may find that some aspects of your proposed use fall in the "favors fair use" column, while others simultaneously "weigh against" fair use. There also may be other relevant considerations that do not appear in this general-purpose tool! Many considerations are relevant, and only by looking at the whole picture, across all the issues, can you make a reasonable guess about whether your use is fair or not.

Many elements of this tool adapted with permission from the Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory Office Fair Use Checklist


Thinking Through Fair Use - My Analysis

Name/title of document or item to be used


Factor #1: Purpose and character of the use (more info)

Favors Fair Use
Educational, scholarly, and research uses, and/or news reporting
Criticism or commentary
Non-profit use, including personal uses
Transformative use (creates a new work with a new purpose), including parody and transformative technologies
Weighs Against Fair Use
Commercial activity
Profiting from use
Decorative or other non-critical, non-commentary use

Notes: Enter additional thoughts regarding the purpose of your proposed use.

Overall thoughts on your purpose

strongly favors fair use

somewhat favors fair use

neutral

somewhat weighs against fair use

strongly weighs against fair use


Factor #2: The nature of the copyrighted work (more info)

Favors Fair Use
Published source
Factual or non-fiction source
Weighs Against Fair Use
Unpublished source
Creative, artistic, or fiction source

Notes: Enter additional thoughts regarding the nature of the work you'd like to use.

Overall thoughts on the nature of the original

strongly favors fair use

somewhat favors fair use

neutral

somewhat weighs against fair use

strongly weighs against fair use


Factor #3: Amount and substantiality of the portion used (more info)

Favors Fair Use
Proportionally small excerpt, extract, or clip
Portion used is peripheral or not significant to the entire work
Only as much as absolutely necessary for a favored "purpose"
Weighs Against Fair Use
Entire work, or proportionally large extract
Portion used is "heart of the work"

Notes: Enter additional thoughts regarding the amount and substantiality of your proposed use..

Overall thoughts on the amount and substantiality of your use

strongly favors fair use

somewhat favors fair use

neutral

somewhat weighs against fair use

strongly weighs against fair use


Factor #4: Effect on the potential market for or value of the work (more info)

Favors Fair Use
User owns lawful copy of the work (bought or otherwise legitimately acquired
Only one or a few copies made
One-time use
Difficult to redistribute, or to make additional copies of the product of your use
Use stimulates market for original work
No impact on market for original work
No product marketed by copyright holder similar to your use
No way to pay or seek permission for your use
Weighs Against Fair Use
Use directly substitutes for a sale that would otherwise have been made
Many copies made
Repeated or long-term use
Easy to redistribute, or to make additional copies of the product of your use (i.e. digital file, online use)
Impairs market for original work
Easily-obtained and affordable license or permission

Notes: Enter additional thoughts regarding the market effect of your proposed use.

Overall thoughts about the effect of your use on the market for the original

strongly favors fair use

somewhat favors fair use

neutral

somewhat weighs against fair use

strongly weighs against fair use


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For your personal use. No other copy is retained here.

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This web site presents information about copyright law. The University Libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.