One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 122 of the Copyright Act. One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of "fair use." Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.
Fair use is the most significant limitation on the copyright holder's exclusive rights. Deciding whether the use of a work is fair IS NOT a science. There are no set guidelines that are universally accepted. Instead, the individual who wants to use a copyrighted work must weigh four factors:
1. The purpose and character of the use:
2. The nature of the copyrighted work:
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used:
4. The effect of use on the potential market for the copyrighted work:
Solving the Copyright Mystery is a copyright tutorial that was created for students & educators in Washington State. It was made possible by a grant from the Library Services and Technology Plan (LSTA).