University Libraries

University of Minnesota Instructors

UMN East Bank viewed from Bohemian Flats at night
Moon over Campus CC by-nc Joe D

At the University of Minnesota, individual instructors are responsible for their own choices in course readings and other instructional content - including the decision to rely on fair use when using particular materials in a course context.

Why does UMN take this approach?

  • This policy supports instructors' intellectual freedom in the instructional context.
  • Instructors are best informed about how important elements of the fair use analysis (such as the amount of the material used, its centrality to the original work, and most importantly, the pedagogical purpose in using the material) apply to their specific uses of copyrighted material.

Some people find the idea of making a fair use determination intimidating or frightening - or they are concerned about the possibility of getting sued about the materials they use in their teaching. Rest assured that:

  • Fair use is not impossible to understand. Some informational campaigns about fair use intentionally sow uncertainty and doubt, but learning the basics of fair use is well within the capacity of most teens and adults.
  • Fair use is central to the functioning of this and other Universities. Instructors making informed and reasonable choices about fair use in their teaching will have the full support of the University in the unlikely event that any legal issues arise.

Learn more about fair use elsewhere on this website (instructional uses; general uses), or by signing up for one of our on-campus or online workshops. We are also happy to consult one-on-one.



Creative Commons License Unless otherwise noted, all content on the Copyright Information section of this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

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.