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Medical Educator's Resource Guide: Copyright

This guide is designed to help new medical educators plan lessons and improve their teaching skills

Four Standards for Determining Fair Use

  1. The purpose and character of the use of copyrighted work
  • Is the copyrighted work the same as the original, or has is the work being used in a new and different way?
  • Is the work for educational, personal, or commercial use?  (Courts are more likely to rule in favor of fair use for noncommercial purposes.)

        2. The nature of the copyrighted work.

  • Facts cannot be copyrighted.
  • The more factual the work, the more likely it is to be considered "fair use."  Conversely, the more creative a work, the less likely it is to be considered "fair use."

3. Amount/Substantiality of the work in relation to the work  as a whole.

  • How MUCH of the copyrighted work is being used?  
  • Poetry - Complete poem of less than 250 works and not printed on more than two pages OR an exerpt from a longer poem of no more than 250 words.  (A line of poetry may be completed without violating copyright).
  • Prose -A complete article, story of essay of less than 2500 words , or an exerpt of not more than 1000 words or 10% of the work (whichever is less). (A paragraph may be finished without violating copyright).
  • Illustrations - One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or periodical issue. (Note:  Database products such as Clinical Key and Access Medicine allow the use of illustrations because permission is granted for noncommercial as a condition of the license fees paid.  For further information, ask your librarian.)

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for (or value of) the copyrighted work.

  • Will the use deprive the copyright holder of profit?

Copyright Questions Instructors Ask