Copyright & Fair Use

Table of Contents

Fair use

The four main factors of Fair Use are:

Purpose and character of the use (educational vs commercial)

Nature of the copyrighted work (factual vs creative, unpublished vs published)

Amount and substantiality used (small amount such as 10% vs large amount)

Market effect (does not impact market for original vs does impact market for original)

Links about fair use:

Fair Use Analysis (Purdue Library)

Creativity & Copyright: A Quick Guide for Students & Educators (ConnectSafely)

Fair Use Table (Andrews University)

Teaching Copyright: Fair Use FAQs (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

If you don’t think your use is Fair Use, then read the Copyright section.


Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. (from Oxford Living Dictionaries)

How do I know if something is copyrighted?

Use these tools to determine if something is copyrighted:

American Library Assn. Copyright Advisory Network: Digital Copyright Slider

United States Copyright Office: Copyright Basics

How do I get permission to use copyrighted material?

Get more information about using copyrighted materials at:

Copyright Clearance Center: Get Permissions

United States Copyright Office: How to Obtain Permission

More info about copyright:

Teaching Copyright: Copyright FAQ (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Public Domain

“A work of authorship is in the ‘public domain’ if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.” (from

What constitutes a work in the public domain?

This handout from Teaching Copyright explains how to tell if a work is in the public domain.

Where to find public domain works:

Smithsonian Institution Public Domain Images

New York Times Public Domain Archives

Project Gutenberg (public domain electronic books)

Librivox (public domain audio books)

Prelinger Archives (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films)

Copyright & Fair Use Basics

The Basics:

1. If you didn’t create it, then be thoughtful about how you use it

2. Make sure you know (and tell) where it came from

3. In general, you need permission to use others’ work

More info about the basics:

If you didn’t create it, then be thoughtful about how you use it

If you reproduce any work not originally created by you (in any way), then know the rules (see all the info below).

Make sure you know (and tell) where it came from

When using others’ work, you should always give credit to the original author/artist. More info about this is available on our library’s Citation page.

In general, you need permission to use others’ work

There are exceptions. But until you know for sure, you should assume that you need permission:

Permission may come in the form of a license (Creative Commons).

You may ask permission.

The law may grant you permission, as with Fair Use or works in the Public Domain.

Thanks to Jim Berry for collaborating with the library to create this page.