Fair use of Intellectual Property

As a student or instructor, it is important to know and understand the laws of Fair Use of Intellectual Property, and to what extent they apply. In many instances, if you are using a work soley for educational or instructional purposes, you will be protected by Fair Use laws. However, there are some situations that you need to be aware of that may infringe upon, or violate, the copyright holders rights.


fair-use1

An image from the BioDiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr page. Digitized by The New York Botanical Garden, LuEsther T. Mertz Library. It is an example of an image that is made available for public use with some restrictions.


Below are some scenarios from the excerpt “Examples Illustrating the Application of Fair Use,” in The Regents Guide to Understanding Copyright and Fair Use, by the Office of Legal Affairs of the University System of Georgia, and answers as to why or why not they are considered fair use.

1.  “A professor copies one article from a periodical for distribution to the class. Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”   

-Yes, this would be considered Fair Use. In-classroom use is acceptable for distributing copies of an article, as this is deemed to have little to no effect on the market value of it.

2.   “A professor has posted his class notes on a Web page available to the public. He wants to scan an article from a copyrighted journal and add it to his Web page. Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-If the page is restricted to students and educators, then it would be considered Fair Use. But if it is available to everyone, then it is not considered Fair Use as this would violate the right of public distribution by the copyright holder.

3.   “A teacher copies a Shakespearian play from a copyrighted anthology.  Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-The play would be free to use as it is part of the public domain. It is not under copyright protection.

4.   “A professor wishes to place a personal copy of a book on reserve for repeated use in the same course. He encourages students to photocopy portions of the book as necessary. Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

– No, this would not be considered Fair Use if it is for more than one semester, as this could be perceived to negatively impact the market value of the book. The school library should purchase copies of the book, or the students should be required to purchase copies of the book.

5.   “A teacher wishes to show a copyrighted motion picture to her class for instructional purposes.  Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-Yes this would be considered Fair Use as long as no admission fees were charged and it was for educational purposes only. The tuition or class fees paid by the student are not considered admission fees.

6.   “A professor or other member of the campus community wishes to show a video outside of the classroom. The event is not part of the day-to-day instruction of a particular course(s), and furthermore is open to anyone who wants to attend. Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-No. Fair Use only covers the events that are part of the classroom instruction and the students that are enrolled in the course. Everything outside of the classroom setting that involves non-students would require either purchasing the public performance rights, or by getting permission from the film’s publisher.


fair-use2 This image has been identified as part of the public domain. There are no restrictions for its use.


7.   “A teacher or student prepares and gives a presentation that displays photographs. Permission was not obtained to use the photographs. Can the photographs be included in the initial presentation, if it is in a traditional classroom?  Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”   

-Yes, Fair Use allows for presentation of copyrighted material as long as it is within the classroom setting and for educational purposes.

8.   “What if the presentation discussed in Scenario 7 is broadcast to students at their homes or offices? Would such use be a Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-As long as the students are enrolled in a course, and the use is for educational purposes, then it is considered Fair Use. Teaching, critique, commentary, and research are all considered valid applications in this scenario.

9.   “What if the teacher’s or student’s presentation explained in Scenario 7 is video-recorded? Would such use be a Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

– Yes. If the video is to be used for educational or instructional purposes, then it is considered Fair Use.

10.   “A professor wishes to use a textbook he considers too expensive. He makes copies of the book for the class. Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-No this would not be considered Fair Use. Although it is intended for education purposes, it is not considered Fair Use to copy an entire volume of work, such as a textbook, as it interferes with the profits for the owner of the copyright.

11.   “A teacher or student creates a presentation and incorporates copyrighted music into the background. Assume that permission was not obtained to use the music for the presentation. Can the music be included in the teacher’s or student’s initial presentation?  Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-Yes. As long as the presentation is for educational purposes, then it is considered Fair Use.

12.   “A professor teaches a music course, and the professor creates a presentation. The presentation contains the works of ten contemporary artists and is presented to a new class every semester. Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-Yes this would be considered Fair Use. As long as the presentation continues to be solely for educational purposes and not for profit, then this is acceptable under the Fair Use laws.

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