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Copyright: Basics

This guide is informational only and does not constitute legal advice.

What is Fair Use?

  • Allows for limited reuse of someone else's work without infringing on their copyright.
  • To help you know if your use is fair use, there are four factors to answer or analyze.
  • The most common question involves reproducing or photocopying a copyrighted document to distribute to a few or many individuals.

Copyright Basics

What is copyright?

Copyright is a legal protection that grants the owners (authors) exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce their work
  • distribute copies
  • perform a work publicly
  • prepare derivative works

What does this mean for me?

You may be able to make limited reuse of someone's work if your use is considered Fair Use. Use the Fair Use checklist to determine that.

What do I need to know about Fair Use?

Fair use helps with promoting scholarship and research so using some copyrighted material for educational purposes may be legal but you must analyze how you want to reuse. Consider these four questions to make your determination.

  1. What is the purpose of the reuse? Is it educational or for monetary gain?
  2. Is the work fact or fiction? Factual works would support fair use more than fictional work.
  3. Amount and substantiality of the work being used. The greater the portion used the less likely the use is fair.
  4. Effect on the potential market. Will the unlicensed use harm the current or future market potential for the work?
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What Can You Do?

  • Be familiar with copyright protection and fair use
  • Get permission from the copyright owner
  • Ask questions

For Authors

Authors will need to learn about protecting their work.

Downers Grove Campus Library (630) 515-6200
Littlejohn Hall
555 31st St. Downers Grove, IL 60515

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Glendale Campus Library (623) 572-3308
Sahuaro Hall
19555 N. 59th Ave. Glendale, AZ 85308

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