Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright is a very specialized area of law. The guidelines for reserve (in-library and electronic) are based on provisions for Fair Use in the U.S. Copyright Act, as well as FERPA, which governs the privacy of student records and papers. Here are links that may answer specific questions about copyright. They are being provided as a convenience and the University of Idaho Library bears no responsibility for the accuracy of the information presented within.



Fair Use: when is it possible to use someone else's work without permission?

Library of Congress Fair Use Flier 102
There are times when the author's right to protection is exempted, and this is called "Fair Use". There are 4 factors to be considered when determining, on a case-by-case basis, whether the use is fair:

  • purpose and character of the use
  • nature of the copyrighted work;
  • amount and substantiality of the portion used in relationship to the work as a whole; and
  • effect on potential market or value
The balance of each of these factors must weigh in favor that the proposed use of the work is fair; otherwise permission to use the work must be sought.

Copyright law protects authors' intellectual property and applies to works fixed in any tangible medium (US Code 102 (1994)). Original works are now (since 1989) covered by copyright law without being registered with the Copyright Office and do not need to have a copyright notice. Copyright basics (U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress).

Specific information with regard to faculty/university copyright ownership issues may be found in the Faculty-Staff Handbook (Section 6580)


Other resources:

Copyright Basics (U.S. Copyright Office)

Copyright Resources (U.S. Copyright Office)

Library of Congress Fair Use Flier 102

University of Idaho Policies

Copyrights, maskworks, and patents

Copyright & Fair Use (Stanford University Libraries)

Copyright and Intellectual Property (Association of Research Libraries)

Copyright law in the electronic environment (University of Texas System, Georgia Harper)

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States (Cornell University)

When Works Pass Into the Public Domain (University of North Carolina, Laura Gasaway)

10 big myths about copyright explained (Brad Templeton)


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