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Fair Use And You - Understanding Copyright Risk In Education

Posted by Thom Rickert on February 24, 2020 at 2:09 PM

Fair Use Doctrine

The fair use doctrine grants the public limited access to copyrighted properties without requiring permission from the copyright holder. In a sense, fair use prohibits violation of the first amendment by allowing the general public to use copyrighted materials for specific uses that may otherwise be considered copyright infringement. For any particular field of creative activity, legal systems consider expectations in practice when assessing what is considered fair use within that field. For example, educational institutions’ implementation of copyrighted materials can be considered fair use due to their expectation to serve a public purpose in instructing students.

Judges usually have four criteria when evaluating, according to the law, whether the application of copyrighted materials for educational purposes complies with the fair use doctrine:

  • How is the work being used? (For teaching or entertainment?) 
  • What kind of work is being taught/shared? (Factual/informational or creative?) 
  • How much of the work is being copied or used for substance? 
  • Is the owner of the work losing any economic status and/or the ability to continue publishing more work?

For more insight and information on how educators can adhere to federal copyright laws, be sure to listen to the podcast!