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Fair Use Information for Staff

Use of copyright-protected work by staff in a non-teaching situation could fall within Fair Use. However, the four factors need to be applied more stringently since it is not used for teaching a course.

To determine if the copyright-protected works falls under fair use in a non-teaching situation, ask yourself these following questions:

  • Is the use for news, criticism, commentary, and parody or in some other way transformative such as quotations used in a paper or short clips in a multimedia production?
    If your answer is yes then fair use is strongly in your favor.
  • Is the copyright-protected work fiction, non-fiction or a personal expression?
    If your answer to this one is yes then you fair use is more limited.
  • How much of the copyright-protected work is to be used? Also, what portions of the work will be used?
    The less you use the greater fair use weighs in your favor.
  • Is the copyright-protected work available for purchase?
    If it is for sale, even if you can’t afford the price then you do not have fair use rights without the copyright holder’s permission.

One of the key misconceptions concerning copyright is that of purchase. Many people believe that if they purchase a book or videotape then they have the right to do with it what they want. However, buying a book, videotape, or music CD only gives the purchaser limited rights to content. Those rights are limited to viewing and reproduction for archival purposes. Purchasing a book, videotape, or music CD does not give you the right to perform or display it publicly.

Another consideration is the audience. If the work is performed or displayed in a public space where anyone can walk in, then the use is probably an infringement of copyright. It’s a better idea to limit access to events where a copyright-protected work is to be performed or displayed to those in the immediate college community (students, faculty, staff and parents). In addition, copies of multimedia productions that make use of copyright-protected works may not be made available to the general public. It would be an infringement to sell copies of a music video or interactive multimedia CD that used popular music unless you got permission through licensing.

The option for non-instructional use is to get permission from the copyright holder through licensing. There are several film companies (SwankMovie Licensing USAMPLC (Motion Picture Licensing Corporation, etc…) that can grant limited use for public performance of motion pictures. This cost can run a couple of hundred dollars for a few days. This is dependent upon the popularity of title and the company renting the film. In addition, there are music licensing groups (ASCAP  BMI  SESAC) that grant blanket licensing for the use of their products.

For print materials the Copyright Clearance Center is always a good place to start.