The four Fair Use Factors have been developed over the years through legislation and court decisions to clarify limited exceptions to the exclusive ownership of copyright holders. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, Fair Use applies to educational uses such as:
Contrary to what some people believe, the Fair Use Factors are not a blank check to violate copyright law when working for a non-profit educational institution.
Instead, the non-profit educational institutional use is only one (1) of the four (4) non-exclusive Fair Use Factors.
All four factors must be considered together when determining Fair Use eligibility as an exception to copyright owners’ exclusive rights.
The four Fair Use Factors as set out by statute are:
Fair Use encompasses the following interpretations. All four factors need to be present for Fair Use to apply:
Non-Profit Educational Use
Non-profit educational use includes teaching, researching, or scholarship at a non-profit educational institution such as UNM. This factor might include multiple copies for classroom use or under conditions where restricted access exists such as password protected electronic reserve.
Purpose and Character
Fair Use favors the use of published factual information that will further educational objectives.
Amount and Substantiality
Fair Use favors use for an appropriate educational purpose for only a small quantity of a copyrighted work that is not central to the entire work.
Any user (such as the faculty member) of a copyrighted work must have lawfully acquired or purchased it as a precondition to fair use. The fair use by a faculty member must not have a significant negative effect on the market value, or a potential market value, for the copyrighted work.
Fair Use factors generally favor use of a copyrighted work in a Hardcopy or Electronic Reserves situation when no negative market value change occurs. For example, a faculty member cannot invoke Fair Use when placing 20 copies of a required text on reserve for a class of 100 students since this action would negatively affect the market value of the required text.