Fair use copyright act


Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act[1] provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that all qualify as fair use.

Section 107 calls for consideration of the following four factors in evaluating a question of fair use:

(1) Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes. Courts look at how the party claiming fair use is using the copyrighted work, and are more likely to find that nonprofit educational and noncommercial uses are fair.

(2) Nature of the copyrighted work.

(3) Amount and substantial portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

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

Courts evaluate fair use claims on a case-by-case basis, and the outcome of any given case depends on a fact-specific inquiry. This means that there is no formula to ensure that a predetermined percentage or amount of a work—or specific number of words, lines, pages, copies—may be used without permission.[2]


  1. US Copright Office. "Copyright Law of USA: Title 17 Section 107." Accessdate: 7/5/2015
  2. US Copyright Office. "U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index." Accessdate: 7/5/2015


See also

Public Domain