February 22-26, 2016 marks Fair Use Week, a celebration of users’ rights in copyright law.
What Is Fair Use?
Fair Use is an integral part of copyright law – it’s the legal doctrine that allows users and creators to build upon and incorporate the past without permission of copyright owners. It allows us to reuse, remix, archive, parody, criticize, and comment on previous works. It also allows technological uses like indexing copyrighted works so users may search for them, time-shifting tv shows to watch later, and creating accessible copies of copyrighted works for the disabled. Fair Use supports the constitutional mandate that copyright serves to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. (In 18th century speak, that’s learning and science, in that order!)
How Do I Know Something Is a Fair Use?
While many factors are considered, there is a 4 factor test codified in 17 USC § 107 is always used (brief explanations in bold)
- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; is it transformative?
- the nature of the copyrighted work; is it factual? creative?
- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; have you used more than necessary? and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. does your use impinge on the market for the work?
Using the four factors isn’t black and white – they are taken all together, and must be evaluated for every copyrighted work used – it’s a case by case analysis.
Penn State University and the Penn State Libraries embrace the usefulness of fair use and its necessity in fulfilling our mission of teaching, research, and service and to inspire intellectual discovery and learning through robust information resources and academic collaborations in teaching and research that connect the Penn State community and citizens of Pennsylvania to the world of knowledge and new ideas.
This week, take a moment to learn more about Fair Use.
Fair Use Week 2016 Events and Posts
What can you do to celebrate Fair Use Week?
- Check out the National Fair Use Week site for a complete listing of webinars and blog posts to learn more about fair use.
- Schedule a consultation with the copyright officer for answers and information about your copyright conundrums. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Instructional Designers in the Fillippelli Institute for eEducation in the College of the Liberal Arts attend a Copyright & Fair Use training on Wednesday!
- Book a training for your unit by emailing!
- Follow the #FairUseWeek2016 hashtag on Twitter
- Learn about how the Libraries remake the meaning of archival items through curation. (2015)
- See how fair use applies to the day-to-day life of a college student.
- Check out this collection of mashup shirts – do you think they’re fair use?
- Stay tuned for more throughout the week!