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Copyright Information: Fair Use

Information and resources about copyright and fair use for the William Paterson University community.


These frequently asked questions were developed in consultation with Laura Gasaway, Professor of Law, University of North Carolina.

Fair Use Guidelines

As a non-profit educational institution, we enjoy exemptions to the Copyright law, which allow instructors and Library Reserves to make copies of materials within "fair use" guidelines.  The Copyright Act of 1976 offers these four factors as guidelines for analyzing a variety of situations where instructors may wish to make copies and thus allows for individual interpretation of these factors on a document-by-document basis:

Factor 1: What is the purpose of the use?  Use of copyrighted works will be for the educational and non-commercial purposes.

Factor 2: What is the nature of the work to be copied?  Using works that are non-fiction or informational is considered more fair than works that are highly creative, such as, music, drama, art, images, fiction, and poetry.

Factor 3: What is the amount used in proportion to the original? The amount used should be directly tailored to educational objectives.  Copies should be limited to excerts from longer works, such as book chapters, journal articles, a single poem.  The portion used should not be central or significant to the work as a whole.

Factor 4: What is the market effect of the use? Your use of the copyrighted work will not impact the market or potential market value of the original.

Fair Use Checklists and Evaluation Tools