12-Fair Use

63 Common Examples of Fair Use

Students and teachers rely on fair use in order to accomplish many of their educational goals. Below are some, but by no means all, educational activities that rely upon fair use.

Student Projects

Includes both media and text.

Your fair use analysis will change depending on how the project is presented, i.e. only the professor sees it, you present it to the whole class, you present it to a group outside of the class, or you post it online for anyone to see.

Course Reserves

Includes electronic reserves.

Instructors may copy or post small portions of books or journals for supplementary student readings, but cannot copy entire copyrighted works as a replacement for materials that students would normally be required to purchase.

Sound or Video Clips for Teaching

Students and teachers can make use of video or sound clips in creating multi-media presentations for use in the classroom.

Digitization Projects

Many university libraries rely on fair use in order to create large scale digitization projects that preserve older materials, as well as providing improved access to their collections for the purpose of research. For an example of this type of digitization project check out the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Content in Scholarly Articles

It is common to quote other researchers’ writings or use others’ images, graphs or charts in your own scholarly writing. These practices have long been considered acceptable under fair use.

Access for the Disabled

When specific exemptions don’t fit.

While there are specific exceptions that allow for making copies of copyrighted works in order to provide access to the visually handicapped, they are sometimes too narrow to provide complete access. In these cases it is possible to rely upon fair use in order to provide access to materials.

Fair Use for Non-Educational Purposes

Fair use is not only available for educational purposes. Many other commercial and non-commercial activities depend upon fair use. Some of these common fair uses include:

  • Quotes in books, news reports and blogs
  • Mash-ups and remixes
  • Parody, such as on television shows like South Park or Saturday Night Live
  • Video or sound clips in documentary films
  • Thumbnail images on search engines
Movie: Sesame Street: Gone With the Wind

Check out this parody from Sesame Street.




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Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research Copyright © 2015 by Teaching & Learning, Ohio State University Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.