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Fair Use

Tips and tricks to support fair use at the University of Chicago.

Judge Joseph Story

Judge Joseph Story

Photographer: Matthew B. Brady (1823-1896). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Judge Joseph Story is the creator of the four factors of fair use, first written about in Folsom v. Marsh (1841).

What Are the Four Factors?

To establish the strongest basis for fair use, consider and apply the four factors along the lines of these suggestions.

1. Purpose of the Use

  • Materials should be used in class only for the purpose of serving the needs of specified educational programs.
  • Students should not be charged a fee specifically or directly for the materials.

2. Nature of the Work

  • Only those portions of the work relevant to the educational objectives of the course should be used in the classroom.
  • The law of fair use applies more narrowly to highly creative works; accordingly, avoid substantial excerpts from novels, short stories, poetry, modern art images, and other such materials.
  • Instructors should not distribute copies of "consumable" materials such as test forms and workbook pages that are meant to be used and repurchased.

3. Amount of the Work

  • Materials used in the classroom will generally be limited to brief works or brief excerpts from longer works. Examples: a single chapter from a book, an individual article from a journal, and individual news articles.
  • The amount of the work used should be related directly to the educational objectives of the course.

4. Effect of the Use on the Market for the Original

  • The instructor should consider whether the copying harms the market or sale of the copyrighted material.
  • Materials used in the class should include a citation to the original source of publication and a form of a copyright notice.
  • Instructor should consider whether materials are reasonably available and affordable for students to purchase - whether as a book, course pack, or other format.