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Provides a general introduction to copyright, fair use, copyright ownership, copyright for instructors, and useful resources.


Fair Use is a limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright holders (discussed in section 107 of Copyright Law) to help preserve First Amendment rights of free speech and promote conversation for purposes such as "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research."

When evaluating whether a use is fair, four factors are taken into consideration:

  1. The purpose and character of a use
  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, and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

No one factor is decisive - all four factors are considered.

Additionally, under factor 1, whether or not the use is transformative has become an important consideration for Fair Use evaluations. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help determine whether your use is transformative (from the Framework for Copyright Analysis tab):

  1. Does the copyrighted material help me make my new point?
  2. Will it help my readers or viewers get my point?
  3. Have I used no more than is needed to make my point? (Is it “just right”?)

Best Practices & Guidelines

The only way to know for certain whether a use is fair is to defend a challenge in court. Fair Use is very context dependent, so only you can determine whether you believe fair use is applicable in your particular situation. However, there are a wealth of resources available to help you make an informed decision. Here are some checklists, guidelines, and best practices for a variety of situations. If you need further expertise, you can consult ASU's Office of General Counsel, or your own lawyer.

Learn More About Fair Use

Fair Use in the Courts

Fair Use in the United States is largely determined by an existing body of case law (previous judicial opinions on similar subjects), and so the best way to understand fair use is often to look at previous fair use cases. As fair use is analyzed in court, the existing body of case law gets larger, and it gets easier for both users and creators to understand the limits of fair use. The resources below are a great way to get introduced to the history of fair use case law and begin to follow current developments in case law!

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.