Skip to Main Content

CUSOM Block 7: Copyright FAQs

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?

Common Copyright Questions