Copyright Mystery Home

Solving the Fair Use Mystery

Meet Jake. He is a student who needs to give a presentation in one of his classes. He has a Fair Use Mystery to solve.

Factor 1: "The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes." Jake is a student presenting during a class session in a public university. His use is for nonprofit educational use. This factor is in his favor.

Factor 2: "The nature of the copyrighted work." Creative works are protected more rigorously than non-fiction works. The cartoon is a fiction work. This factor works against fair use.

Factor 3: "The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole." This cartoon is one page of a multipage magazine. It is a very small portion of the copyrighted work. This factor is in Jake's favor.

Factor 4: "The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work." The students would not be required to buy this work if Jake didn't provide it for them in class. His use has no effect on the potential market for the use. And his use will not affect the value of the work. This factor is in his favor.

Jake's final score is 75% for Fair Use, 25% against. It's probably OK to use that cartoon in class.

It is not quite that easy, of course. If the use totally destroyed any market for the work, this might count heavily enough to outweigh other factors. Fair Use is supposed to be just that - fair - and if a reasonable person might find your use unfair, then you may want to consider asking permission.

Next, let's look at some additional resources to help us determine fair use.

<< Back Next >>

updated: August 15, 2011