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Copyright information for students and faculty.

Fair Use and Other Rights of Use

Activities within fair use are not infringements.

Fair use is an important right to use copyrighted works at the university. Fair use can allow us to clip, quote, scan, share, and make many other common uses of protected works. But not everything is within fair use. Fair use depends on a reasoned and balanced application of four factors: the purpose of the use; the nature of the work used; the amount used; and the effect of the use on the market for the original.

Fair use is one of many statutory rights to use copyrighted works.

Fair use is now encoded in the U.S. Copyright Act, which also includes many other provisions allowing uses of works in the classroom, in libraries, and for many other purposes. These statutes, however, are highly detailed, and the right to use works is usually subject to many conditions and limitations.

Uses are also allowed with permission.

If your use of a copyrighted work is not within one of the statutory exceptions, you may need to secure permission from the copyright owner. A non-exclusive permission does not need to be in writing, but a signed writing is almost always good practice. The permission may come directly from the copyright owner, or through the Copyright Clearance Center or similar agency.

U.S. copyright law applies to domestic and foreign works.

In general, the same principles of copyright under the domestic law of the U.S. (or of another country) apply to a work, whether the work originated in the U.S. or elsewhere. Under major multinational treaties, many countries have agreed to give copyright protection to works from most other countries of the world. Because the U.S. has joined such treaties, you should apply U.S. copyright law to most works, regardless of their country of origin.

Used under a Creative Commons BY license from the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University, Kenneth D. Crews, director.

Fair Use

P: Purpose and character of the use.
A: Amount of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
N: Nature of the copyrighted work.
E: Effect of the use upon the potential market.