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Fair Use : Intro: Fair use and copyright

A guide to fair use and copyright, and how those subjects relate to academic teaching.

What is copyright? How does it relate to fair use?

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection that provides authors of original creative works with limited control over the reproduction and distribution of their work. It gives copyright holders a set of exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce the work, in whole or in part,
  • distribute copies of the work,
  • publicly perform the work,
  • publicly display the work, and
  • prepare derivative works based on the original, such as translations or adaptations.

Under U.S. law, works are automatically copyrighted at the time of creation, and authors are not required to attach a copyright notice on the work (e.g. © 2010 University of New Mexico), to publish the work or register it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

What is Fair Use?

U.S. copyright law includes the exemption of Fair Use in order to promote freedom of expression.  If your use is fair, permission from the copyright holder is not required; and you may engage in the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works.

Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as criticism, parody, news reporting, research and scholarship, and teaching.

Wondering how to assess whether or not your use of this copyrighted item qualifies as fair use? We have you covered! The next tab addresses this. 


This information provided in this Guide has been adapted from UNM's Copyright Guide, Fair Use Basics. and from New York University Libraries, Research Guide: Copyright and Fair Use.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.