Copyright and Fair Use

Madie Westbrook


Copright is a law put on most literature, artwork, music, videos, and webpages. This law prevents anyone from stealing your work and using it as their own. If you do not put a copyright on your work, anyone can use it and make a profit on it, leaving you with nothing. But, if you do have a copyright on your work, you will be able to control how much people can use your work and, if it happens to be illegally stolen, you are able to earn money from the person stealing your work.

Fair Use

The fair use provision allows select people to use copyrighted material without permission from the owner. This allows copyrighted material to be used for criticism, education (both teacher and students), and research. To determine if copyrighted items are "fair" to use, you must keep in mind the purpose in using, the nature of, the amount that you are using of, and the effect of using the copyrighted items. Although you can use the material without permission from the owner, you must still reference, or cite, the items that you use. Even if you are only using the material once, you must cite it in order for you to use it.

Fair Use Rules of Thumb

Although you may use copyrighted material if it falls under "fair", you must use a certain amount for it to be legal.

Motion Media

When using motion media in a presentation, you are allowed to use up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, of the total production.


When using text, up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less, of the total text material. A poem of less than 250 words may be used, but no more than 3 poems by a single poet or 5 poems by different poets from any book. For longer poems, 250 words may be used but no more than 3 excerpts by a poet, or 5 excerpts by different poets from one book.

Music, Lyrics, and Music Video

When using music, up to 10% but no more than 30 seconds of the music or lyrics from a single artist.


An entire photo or illustration may be used but no more than 5 images by an artist or photographer. When using artwork from a published work, no more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, may be used as part of an educational media project.