Copyright and Fair Use

Copyrights and Fair Use

Do you use materials from the Web on your course site?

Do you use texts on your course site that you copied from books or borrowed from other sources?

How sure are you that your use of these copyrighted materials is a fair use?

Some examples of digital media for instruction include images from the Web used in lecture presentations, audio or video clips used in the classroom or as homework resources, graphs and charts, and scanned texts. These materials are often distributed via the Learning Management System, such as a Canvas course site at IU.

Four Factors Help Determine Fair Use

Some uses of copyrighted material are protected under the fair use provision, Section 107 of the US Copyright Act. Instructors must consider whether their proposed use of these materials is a lawful - or fair - use. Fair use of materials is evaluated by balancing four factors of the proposed use:

  • Factor 1: Purpose
  • Factor 2: Nature
  • Factor 3: Amount
  • Factor 4: Market effect

Each factor must be analyzed and evaluated for each item used. The entire analysis, though likely mixed, will probably weigh more heavily in one direction or the other, either favoring fair use, or opposing.

Fair Use Checklist To Analyze Intended Use of Materials

By using this Fair Use Checklist, instructors can analyze their intended use of copyrighted materials and make informed decisions about use. The original Fair Use Checklist analysis was developed by Dr. Kenneth Crews, J.D., former director of the IUPUI Copyright Management Center, and former director of The Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University's Libraries/Information Services.The checklist has been customized for Indiana University use by CITL staff, who worked with Dr. Crews in its development. Download and fill out this checklist for each copyrighted item you wish to use.

Instructors should retain the filled-out form as a record of their good-faith decision-making process in considering a proposed instructional use.

The Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office also offers more information about fair use and the four-factor analysis in particular.

Using Disney Content To Explain Fair Use

Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University has created—entirely out of content owned by the Disney corporation—a fun and bold commentary on copyright and the fair use exception. Chapter 4 discusses fair use directly.


For More Help or Information

For information about using media in your course, contact Cordah Robinson or contact CITL. If you seek additional advice on fair use for instruction, you may wish to contact IU Counsel to discuss the legal use of media in your IUB course at 812-855-9739.