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Copyright: Fair Use and TEACH Act

Fair Use (definition)

Fair Use is an important copyright concept for educators who use copyrighted works in their teaching. The Fair Use doctrine permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. If a use falls outside the fair use guidelines, permission often must be requested and received from the copyright holder to be lawful.

Section 107 of title 17, U. S. Code contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

TEACH Act (definition)

Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act and Distance Education

Signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 2, 2002 the TEACH Act clarifies what uses are permissible with regard to distance education.

Fair Use Evaluators and Checklists

Permissible Amounts

This chart describes the approximate permissible amounts for Fair Use.