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Copyright Center for CPS Online (UNH Manchester Library): Fair Use

Fair Use is a remarkably short piece of copyright law reflecting the need for copyrighted works to be available for “purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching… scholarship, or research.”

The statute lays out a “four factor test” for determining whether a use is “fair,” and therefore not a copyright infringement. We are all empowered to use this test when deciding whether we can use someone else’s copyrighted work without seeking permission. The four factor test is flexible and avoids bright line rules. It includes: the purpose and character of proposed use; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used; and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the work.

If you are looking for a way to remember those four factors, it may help to think of how fair use removes the “pane” (pain) of copyright law, based on analyzing the:

  • Purpose (of your use)
  • Amount (used)
  • Nature (of the work)
  • Effect (on the market)

The Granite State College community of faculty, students, and staff strongly supports compliance with US copyright laws. 

Educational Use of Copyrighted Materials

Educational use of copyrighted material may be acceptable under fair use guidelines. These are not specific criteria, but general guidelines for what is likely acceptable under fair use and copyright law.

Item Allowed Exercise Caution and Judgement
Web site containing copyrighted material Link to the web site via Canvas Copying and pasting the information into Canvas
Copyrighted web image Must be educational in nature; display in Canvas for one semester Repeated use over multiple semesters
Article from a library database Use a permalink to an article.
* see directions below for creating a Permalink
Copying and pasting the article into Canvas
Scanned copyrighted image Must be educational in nature; display in Canvas for one semester Repeated use over multiple semesters
Scanned chapter from a book Use only the portion of the work you need for the purpose More than the minimum needed or repeated use over multiple semesters
Scanned article from a journal, trade publication, or magazine A single article for one semester Multiple articles from the same publication or repeated use over multiple semesters
Audio files Use only the portion of the work you need for the purpose Repeated use over multiple semesters
Video files Use only the portion of the work you need for the purpose Repeated use over multiple semesters

Faculty frequently ask about adding articles or e-books they find via the GSC library databases directly into their online classes. Copying and pasting the article is generally a violation of copyright and our lease agreement with Ebsco. What you can do instead is create a permalink directly from the article, and copy it into your online class. Students will then simply click on the permalink and be taken directly to the article. Here is how you do it:

  1. Search for the article  or e-book you want to use via the GSC Discovery Service
  2. Once you find the article, open it by clicking on the PDF or HTML version of the article
  3. Along the right navigation are a series of article tools - the Chain Link is the permalink tool.Click on it
  4. Above the article will appear a field with the Chain Link and label Permalink. In the field will be the permalink
  5. Copy it and place the link in your online class as a regular Moodle link
  6. Students can now click on the link and access the article

Faculty often use scholarly articles, newspaper articles, and related information we find on the web. The temptation is always to put the information directly into our online Canvas course. In many cases this is a violation of copyright. What to do? Use a permalink or link whenever possible. Here's how:

  • Find an article or text you want to use - below is an example from the New York Times
  • Use the Share and Permalink to link the article from the NYTimes to your course

NOTE: Each time you teach the course verify that the permalink is still working

To learn more about fair use and the four factor test, see the following  resources:

  • Fair use quiz: self-guided quiz explaining fair use and providing various scenarios to assess common fair use cases.
  • A window on fair use: Video on relying on fair use to legally reuse copyrighted content without permission from the copyright holder.
  • Identifying images for fair use: A web guide on images and copyright, with links to more resources.
  • Search your podcast app for this Podcast on fair use: Radio Free Culture #38: a 2015 Fair Use Week podcast interview with Ellen Finnie, head of Scholarly Communications and Collections Strategy at the MIT Libraries. In this episode, RFC host Cheyenne Hohman speaks with Ellen about the four elements of fair use, how to determine if your use is fair, and other issues around the edges of copyright, music, technology.