Copyright and Fair Use

A student guide to proper use of Intellectual Property

What is Copyright????

Copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce, publish, sell or distribute creative or intellectual property such as a book, article, musical work, or art piece. This includes performing, displaying publicly, or reproduction of work created by another person or entity. Watch this short video to get you started on the ins and outs of copyright from the folks at!

Why is it important to me as a student?

Because your use internet sites, articles, research journals and references in your work all the time! This work was created by another author and so the rights to that intellectual property belongs to them!

Not at all! Read on to see how you are allowed to use Intellectual property, but first, you need to know how to cite sources you use. Here are some links to popular citation making websites!

Fair Use- an Introduction!

So, Fair use is how you ARE actually allowed to use copyrighted material (with citations, of course!) Fair use is a legal concept that allows the reproduction of copyrighted material for certain purposes without obtaining permission and without paying a fee or royalty. Purposes permitting the application of fair use generally include review, news reporting, teaching, or scholarly research.

How do I know if it can be used under 'Fair Use" Rules?????

Ask yourself ALL of the following 4 questions:

1. What is purpose of the work???? - Is it for educational purposes and does it somehow add to the original work or transform it in some way? This is important for use in student work! We will look at the transform part more later on….

2. What is the Nature of the work? If it is unpublished or a very old work, it like to be allowed under Fair Use. Also, factual works are more likely to be allowed under Fair Use than artistic works.

3. How much of the copyrighted work are you using? - the larger portion you use, the less likely it would be allowed under Fair Use.

4. Does the use in any way affect the author’s potential profit from our use? For the most part, in the case of student work, the answer would be no, but you still need to consider ALL of these questions!

Fair Use in Depth from the US Copyright Office

Click on the link to learn more on Fair Use!


Fair use is most likely to apply if the intellectual work you are using is transformed- that means you are using a small piece of intellectual property combined with other elements to CREATE a NEW ORIGINAL work! Like, say, a research paper...........

Next Steps.....

Go to your discussion forum for this week. You have two assignments.

1. In the Discussion, choose TWO of the scenarios I have posted and make a case for whether or not they violate copyright rules. Read and respond to TWO of your classmates posts. (be sure to ask yourself the 4 essential questions when trying to determine if Fair Use applies!)

2. Opinion- do you think copyright rules are too strict, or not strict enough? Should there be more clearly defined guidelines for what constitutes Fair Use? Write a post with your thoughts and discuss with at least TWO classmates!