Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Copyright and Fair Use at Livingston Lord Library: Copyright and Fair Use - an Overview

Copyright Information

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17 of the U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • To reproduce the work;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies of the work;
  • To perform the work publicly; and
  • To display the work publicly.


Fair Use Information

While US law establishes protections for copyright holders, it also defines limitations to their rights. One such example is the doctrine of fair use (Section 107). Individuals using copyrighted works for "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" can weigh their use against the four factors defined in Section 107 to determine if they need to seek permission from the copyright holder. The four factors are:

(1) The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of 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.

Readings on Fair Use

For an overview of issues related to the use of copyrighted materials in an academic setting, check out the following resources:

Fair Use Checklists

Still not sure if it's fair use? The following universities have created checklists that may help: