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Educational Fair Use

Fair Use








Copyright is federal law that protects an author, artist, composer, or other creator, however, there is educational fair use for teachers, students, and scholars who need to copy for the purpose of teaching, learning, criticism, comment, news reporting, and research.

The 4 Tests of Determining Fair Use

  1. The use is for nonprofit educational purposes only.
  2. The nature of the work tends to be mostly factual and has been published.
  3. The amount to be used falls within the portion guidelines.
  4. The author/owner of the copyright must not be deprived of a sale.
  • You must cite your sources on the copy and document the tie-in to your curriculum in your lesson plan.
  • No more than one copy per student.
  • Usage must be at the “instance and inspiration of a single teacher.”
  • Do not create anthologies.
  • “Consumables” can’t be copied.
  • Images and sound files may not be reposted onto the Internet without permission.
  • Copying can’t be directed by a “higher authority.”
  • Anything in the public domain can be used.
  • Staying within the length limitation guidelines constitutes fair use.


Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers & Students

UNT Fair Use Analysis Tool

Copyright Terms and Public Domain


What You Need to Know About Copyright

  • Model copyright compliance and ethical behavior for students.
  • The burden of proving fair use falls to the educator using the material.
  • Cite sources carefully and teach students how to cite sources.
  • When in doubt, ask permission of the copyright holder.
  • As a rule of thumb, don’t use more than 10% of print or online pieces of work.
  • Violators are subject to fines of $750 – $250,000 per work infringed.