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Copyright and Fair Use

​The purpose of Copyright Law is to advance learning and innovation by protecting the creators of original intellectual works, both published and unpublished.

It is the professional obligation of educators to understand Copyright Law and Fair Use.

 American Libraries Live: The Copyright Conundrum

 The Copyright Conundrum: Highlights

  • ​There are no black and white answers when it comes to Copyright and Fair Use. It is every educator's professional obligation to understand copyright law.
  • Every institution has a different amount of risk they are willing to take when it comes to copyright. You can never reduce your risk to zero.
  • Copyright Law has risk mitigation built in for libraries and public education institutions. If we make (and document) good faith efforts, then damages are remitted.
  • It's important to tie in how you apply Fair Use to the goals of your institution. You might be willing to assume more risk, for instance, if using that copyrighted material supports an institutional goal.
  • When a question of Copyright or Fair Use comes up, first do your research, then document why you made the choice you made. Your documentation could be as simple as a sticky note or a lesson plan.
  • Educate, don't police! Once you become the copyright police, you open yourself up to secondary liability. The better option is to educate and redirect.
  • Social media and other online companies have their own contracts and policies that you need to be aware of before you use them.
  • Violation of vendor contracts is a separate issue from copyright and fair use. A vendor contract is a legal document that you agree to abide by.

Please watch the entire video for elaboration on these topics.

 Fair Use

​"The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission."

You must evaluate all four criteria below to determine whether you can claim fair use of a copyrighted work.

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