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Creative Commons and Public Domain: Fair Use

This guide explains how to find free images, videos, and sound files for your class projects and how to give proper attribution to the creator.

What is Fair Use?

Fair Use refers to ability to use copyrighted work for particular purposes without needing permission from the work's creator. The guidelines for Fair Use must be consulted in order to avoid copyright infringement. In order to claim Fair Use, exceptions must fall within one of the following categories:

  • criticism
  • commentary
  • news reporting 
  • education -- teaching and research

In addition, when claiming Fair Use, the following questions must be addressed in order to avoid potential copyright infringement:

  • What is the purpose and character of the use?
  • What is the nature of the copyrighted work?
  • How much of the original copyrighted work is being used?
  • Will use of any portion of the copyrighted work have a negative impact on the original creator's gains?

For more information about what qualifies under Fair Use, see Section 107 of the Copyright Law of the United States.

To see examples of Fair Use in action, download the following infographic from the Association of Research Libraries. 

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