Reaching Others University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
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Fair Use in Higher Education

Copyright guarantees rights to owner of a work, including commercial gain, but copyright works can be used under Fair Use. Fair Use, section 107 of the copyright law, allows for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research.

The four factor test is used to determine fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyright work;
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market or value of the copyright work.

Each fair use case must be reviewed independently. To assist in your fair use review, UB libraries maintains a Copyright and Fair Use website.

The University of Texas also has a lengthy summary of how Fair Use applies to higher education and provides a lot of advice on how to approach the use of copyrighted materials.

If you receive a copyright infringement notice or a letter from a lawyer, contact your IT chair and seek legal counsel.

Not Fair Use

Downloading commercially available music and sharing it on a P2P network.

Fair Use

Quoting passages from a book in a report for a class assignment.

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