Fair Use

Fair use is a limitation on copyright. It allows people other than the copyright owner to copy part or, in some circumstances, all of a copyrighted work, even when the copyright holder objects or has not given permission.  The concept of fair use is why your professor can legally provide you with a copy of a journal article to read for class and why you can check out a book, DVD or CD at the library.

Here are some examples of the types of uses the courts have determined to be fair:

  • Criticism and commentary
  • Parody
  • News reporting - using quotes for the puposes of news reporting
  • Art - repurposing parts of other people's work in a new art piece
  • Scholarship and research
  • "time-shifting" - copying something like a television show to watch at a later time
  • Search engine's use of thumbnail images for search results