Module 2: Copyright, Public Domain & Fair Use

Copyright | Public Domain | Fair Use | Comparison Chart

Fair Use

Watch: Copyright, Exceptions, and Fair Use presented by Stan Muller from Crash Course
Video Transcript: Copyright, Exceptions, and Fair Use

Fair use is an exception to copyright that allows limited use of copyrighted materials without acquiring permission from the rights holder.  There are no hard-and-fast rules, only general guidelines.  Court ruling is the only way to get a definitive answer on whether a particular use is fair.  When considering whether your use of copyrighted materials is fair, you need to keep 4 factors in mind:

  1. The purpose and character of your use (what do you use the copyrighted materials for?)
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (what is the copyrighted work?)
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion taken in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market

Purposes such as scholarship, research, or education may also qualify as transformative (under purpose and character) because the work is the subject of review or commentary. This fair use checklist is a very useful tool to help you determine whether your use is fair or not.


This module was created by Ching-Jung Chen. Portions of the content were adapted from: