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Frequently Asked Questions


This is a University. Can't I copy just about anything under Fair Use?


Fair use is not a blank check. Under fair use, a reproduction of someone else's copyright-protected work may be considered fair if it is used for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. If the reproduction is for one of these purposes, then a determination of fair use will be based upon four factors:
  1. The purpose and character of use (principally, whether for commercial or nonprofit educational use);
  2. The nature of the copyright-protected work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used; and
  4. The effect of the contemplated use on the potential market for or value of the copyright-protected work.
The difference between "fair use" and "infringement" is not easy to determine. A determination of fair use requires a very circumstance-specific analysis of the intended use or reuse of a work. The University interprets the following situations as meeting the requirements of fair use:
  • Quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author's observations.
  • Reproduction of material for classroom use where the reproduction is unexpected and spontaneous - for example, where an article in the morning's paper is directly relevant to that day's class topic. This would generally cover one time use in only one semester.
  • Use in a parody of short portions of the work itself.
  • A summary of an address or article, which may include quotations of short passages of the copyright-protected work.

For more information and discussion of Fair Use, see: or
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