What is Fair Use?

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a part of copyright law that allows the use of copyrighted material for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody, without permission from the copyright owner. A determination of fair use of copyrighted materials requires analysis of four equally weighted factors:

  • the purpose and character of your use.
    • Is the material being used in an educational/non-profit setting?
    • Are you saying something new about the material? Critique?
    • How long do you plan to use the material?
  • the nature of the copyrighted work
    • Is the material digital or print?
    • Is the material published or unpublished?
    • Is the material out of print?
    • Is the material factual or artistic?
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion taken
    • Are you using a relatively small amount of the material?
    • Are you using only the amount necessary or whole product?
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market
    • Will less people purchase the material?
Fair Use at Augusta University

Faculty and students will mostly likely use the Fair Use guidelines when using pictures, images, or articles on Desire2Learn or in presentations. Best practices for using copyrighted materials under include:

  • One chapter (or equivalent) from a book so long as it is not the heart of the material
  • One journal or newspaper article (or equivalent)’
  • An excerpt from a prose work that does not exceed more than 10% of the work
  • One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per journal issue
  • Does the library have access to a digital copy? Link to the electronic version of the material instead of uploading a PDF or other document.
  • Copies of copyrighted works, regardless of their format, should include proper attribution and copyright notices.
  • When in doubt, consult a librarian! Contact the Scholarly Communications Librarian, Kim Mears, at kmears@gru.edu or 706-721-8789

These best practices are only suggestions and should not be used to make a determination of fair use without consideration of the other factors. 


Augusta University Libraries Copyright Research Guide

Copyright Clearance Center

Stanford Universities Libraries 

University System of Georgia Fair Use Checklist