Fair Use Week 2021

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Guest post by Copyright and Intellectual Property Librarian, LeEtta Schmidt.

One of your research sources makes a provocative statement with authority and insight.  You quote this source in your latest article to illustrate how other scholars are analyzing your topic.  You have copied and reprinted part of their work, but copyright law makes an exception for this fair use.

A news article reports an event and witness insight that would benefit the students in your class, and help them fully engage with the course content.  You share a portion of this article with your class.  You have made copies and distributed the work, but copyright law makes an exception for this type fair use.

You are writing a review of a new book that has been published in your discipline.  To provide your audience with the greatest context for your critique, you provide quotes from the book and a small thumbnail of the book’s cover.  You have copied and reprinted part of the book, but copyright law makes an exception for this type of fair use.

Copyright law gives authors and/or rights holders exclusive rights over a creative work.  Only they can copy, distribute, display, perform, and create derivatives of a work, unless that copying, distribution, and display are part of activities for which copyright law makes exceptions.  The fair use exception establishes that certain uses are not an infringement of a rights holder’s exclusive rights.  Copyright law also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

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

Fair use is employed daily by students, instructors, and librarians since the exception in copyright law was first codified (learn more about fair use:  https://guides.lib.usf.edu/c.php?g=5784&p=25777).  In 2014, the first Fair Use Week celebrated these common uses and encouraged greater discussion about the creative activities fair use enables (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use#Fair_Use_Week).  Since then, Fair Use and Fair Dealing Week has been challenging people around the world to consider how they use fair use.  How do you use fair use?

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