"Copyright is a legal device that provides the creator of a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas, the right to control how the work is used” (Fishman, 2008, p. 6). The intent of copyright is to advance the progress of knowledge by giving an author of a work an economic incentive to create new works (Loren, 2000, para. 12).
We are all avid users of copyrighted materials such as music,films, books, magazines, art, and photographs, but most of us have little or no understanding about how or why these works are protected.
Many students, including you, create works that enjoy copyright protection (even though you probably never have applied for copyright protection) including music, poetry, photography, artwork, and even websites.
Fair use is an important part of copyright law that provides some flexibility for users and new creators. Fair use ensures that there are some kinds of uses that do not require permission or payment.
Remember, when claiming fair use exemption for copyrighted materials:
Only use a small piece of the item and only what is absolutely necessary.
Only use it for personal and class-related purposes. Don't make a copy for someone else or make your copy of the material available in any openly accessible fashion.
Don't use it if you are in any way adversely affecting the commercial potential of the work.
Make sure that you take your excerpt of the work from a legally-obtained version of the work.
If you're not sure if the use is legal, get permission or don't use it!
It can be very difficult to apply basic ideas of fair use to specific situations. To help you determine whether you can use something, refer to the chart below: