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Copyright Information Center

Guide to using copyrighted material in course content at Hofstra University.

"The flexibility of fair use can lead users to wish for clearer rules or brighter lines. But the flexibility of fair use is its strength." -- Peter Jaszi

Best Practices in Fair Use

A number of professional organizations and associations have developed statements of best practices for fair use. These codes and principles reduce risk of copyright infringement by clarifying professional community standards. These can be especially helpful when you have a specific fair use situation related to teaching, research, or publication. Some examples: A student might wonder if she could include an image of a work by a contemporary artist in her master's thesis. A poet may be concerned about making allusions to the work of other poets, to advertising copy, or to content from journalism or pop culture. A budding journalist captures a scene from everyday life in a video report, but copyrighted music playing in the background of the scene was also recorded. The statements listed below outline many such scenarios, then discuss how the principles of fair use might apply; they also discuss limitations that would tend to negate a fair use argument.

Professor Peter Jaszi explains the codes: "The flexibility of fair use can lead users to wish for clearer rules or brighter lines. But the flexibility of fair use is its strength. Courts have emphasized that fair use analysis is fact- and situation-specific. In most cases, however, it is also quite predictable. Moreover, it can be made more so. Even without case law specifically addressing a use, judges and lawyers consider expectations and practice—whether the user acted reasonably and in good faith in light of standards of accepted practice in a particular field. One way of creating better understanding of what fair use permits is, therefore, to document the considered attitudes and best practices of a professional community." ("Fair Use Today," Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, College Art Association, 2015, p. 14).

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts from the College Art Association

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries from the Association of Research Libraries

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education from the Center for Media and Social Impact, American University

Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use from the Center for Media and Social Impact, American University

Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Poetry from the Center for Media and Social Impact, American University

Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video from the Center for Media and Social Impact, American University

Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism from the Center for Media and Social Impact, American University

Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study from the Visual Resources Association

Statement of Fair Use Best Practices for Media Studies Publishing from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies

Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication from the International Communication Association

Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-related Materials from the Dance Heritage Coalition

 

Fair Use Week

2016 Fair Use Week

Fair Use Week is an annual celebration of the important doctrine of fair use. It is designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use, celebrate successful stories, and explain this doctrine. Libraries emphasize fair use for one week, but we rely on fair use throughout the year.

Faculty and students also rely on fair use! Check out this infographic: Fair Use: A Day in the Life of a College Student

Have you ever received a YouTube strike on your account? Doug Walker, The Nostalgia Critic, released this awesome discussion of the YouTube copyright take down system. 

"No more staying silent. The time has come to start some dialogue about Fair Use and how it's constantly being trampled on via the YouTube claim and take down system."

A Fair Use Mantra:

"Use fairly, not too much, have reasons"

--Brandon Butler

Fair Use

The Fair Use Doctrine allows and even encourages use of copyrighted works for socially beneficial activities such as teaching, learning, and scholarship. Courts consider four factors in deciding whether a use is Fair Use or an infringement:

  1. Purpose of the Use (learning, commentary, criticism OR commercial);
  2. Nature of the Publication (factual OR creative);
  3. Amount and Substantiality of the Whole (small OR substantial);
  4. Effect on the Market (has no affect OR replaces a sale).

Most courts consider the first and fourth factors to be more important, but all four factors should be taken into account, and it is only after considering all of them that one can conclude if a specific use of copyrighted work is fair or not. Each case is distinct, and other combinations of these factors can also be considered fair; it all depends on the specific circumstances. The Fair Use doctrine is deliberately flexible to permit uses that may "promote the progress of science and useful arts".

There is a wealth of great information available from the Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office. Stanford University Libraries also maintains a very useful Copyright and Fair Use websiteYou may be interested in the Copyright Office's Circular 21, Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians. 

Hofstra University has adopted a Fair Use Checklist to assist faculty in making fair use decisions.



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