Fair Use Week takes place this week from Monday, February 26 through Friday, March 2, 2018, and is just what it sounds like—a celebration of Fair Use and a chance to raise awareness about Fair Use.

What exactly is Fair Use? Check out this infographic for a quick overview, and click here to read the full text of the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17 of the United States Code). Section 107 discusses Fair Use:

Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

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

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.


Want to know more? The library has a guide just for copyright, blog posts on copyright in the classroom, and plenty of books and articles on the subject of Fair Use in the United States. For more best practices, check out the Association of Research Libraries (ARL)’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. For teaching tools, check out the Center for Media & Social Impact’s Fair Use Teaching Tools.

And what about images–how does Fair Use apply to images? Among all of the great resources out there, the Visual Resources Association’s Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study and the College Art Association’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts stand out as leaders in the world of visual resources.

The VRA Statement “aims to provide educators, scholars, and students – as well as members of the Visual Resources Association, librarians, and others – with the tools to rely on fair use with greater certainty when they employ these practices and principles,” and addresses six categories of image use:

  • Preservation: Storing Images for Repeated Use in a Teaching Context; Transferring Images to New Formats
    • Use of Images for Teaching Purposes
    • Use of Images on Course Websites and in Other Online Study Materials
    • Adaptations of Images for Teaching and Classroom Work by Students
    • Sharing Images Among Educational and Cultural Institutions to Facilitate Teaching and Study
    • Reproduction of Images in Theses and Dissertations
Page 59 image of the comic book-style "Bound by Law: Tales form the Public Domain."
“Bound by Law: Tales from the Public Domain,” pg. 59; Center for the Study of Public Domain, Duke University.

The CAA Code (College Art Association) “describes common situations in which there is a consensus within the visual arts community about practices to which [Fair Use] doctrine should apply and provides a practical and reliable way of applying it,” and addresses five categories of image use:

  • Analytic Writing
  • Teaching about Art
  • Making Art
  • Museum Uses
  • Online Access to Archival and Special Collections

Still looking for more resources on copyright, Fair Use, and image use? Check out the list of resources on the Visual Resources Association’s page of Resources Providing Guidance on Academic Use of Images and the Fair Use Week Resources page.

Check out @fairuseweek, #fairuseweek2018, and #fairuseweek on Twitter during Fair Use Week to learn more! There will likely be links to lots of resources and blog posts throughout the week on Twitter during Fair Use Week to learn more!

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