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Copying and Fair Use

Fair Use in the Classroom

When it comes to fair use, it remains important to balance the purpose of the use with the nature of the work and the impact on the market for the work both in terms of purchasing and permissions. These factors are considered in context of the institution's policy on copying for academic use. The University of Utah's copying and reuse policy provides initial guidance; you can also contact Allyson Mower, copyright librarian to get help with a fair use evaluation.

Fair Use factors commonly referred to when using a copyrighted work:

  • Purpose of the use
  • Nature of the work
  • Amount to be used
  • Effect on the market 

The U.S. Copyright Act accounts for and defines fair use as the ability to copy for purposes of criticism, commenting, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Measuring and applying what constitutes a fair use remains subjective, but guidance exists to help navigate the flexible nature of fair use especially within institutions whose mission centers on teaching, scholarship, and research including the U of U policy on copying (linked above) and librarians with copyright expertise--Allyson Mower (Marriott Library), Ross McPhail (Quinney Library), and Nancy Lombardo (Eccles Library)

In the broadest sense, copyright represents an individual right and consists of five components that rights holders can transfer or license either in whole or in part. Essentially, copyright protects the creators of original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works and the protection extends to both published and unpublished material (Title 17, U.S. Code). The following list includes the typical (and exclusive) rights that come with being a copyright holder:

  • To reproduce the work
  • To prepare derivative works
  • To distribute copies of the work
  • To perform the work publicly
  • To display the work publicly

The committee's final report provides helpful information on copyright and fair use. See Section 6.4 (pg. 31). 

 Last Modified 5/13/15