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Faculty Resources: Copyright & Fair Use


This guide is intended to aid members of the Iona community in making decisions about the academic use and distribution of copyrighted materials in various formats, including articles, video, books, etc. Please contact Jill Gross (x2353) or Tony Iodice (x2347) for more information.


Intellectual property covers copyright, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. This guide will focus on copyrighted works as intellectual property and how instructors may use or may not use portions of copyrighted work in the classroom environment.

Copyright protects 8 categories of original works
Writing Photography
Movies Music
Software Painting
Dance Architecture
What cannot be copyrighted? FACTS
Addresses and phone numbers Weights and Measures
Dates Recipes
Names Titles

You cannot copyright an idea until it is in a fixed, tangible form. This can be a digital form. Once your idea is in a fixed, tangible form, it is automatically copyrighted and the copyright holder has exclusive rights. 

The exceptions which allow for the reproduction and redistribution of copyrighted materials for academic purposes are outlined in Section 107 of US Code Title 17: Limitations on Exclusive Rights for Fair Use. As defined, “fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative" purpose such as to comment upon, criticize or parody a copyrighted work.” (Source: Stanford University Libraries. 2010. “Chapter 9: What is Fair Use?” Copyright and Fair Use.)

1. the purpose and character of your use
2. the nature of the copyrighted work 
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and 
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

There are guidelines and best practices to consider.  This guide attempts to outline the most pertinent of these considerations.


Characteristics of Fair Use

Let's break down Fair Use:

1. the purpose and character of your use

Favoring Fair Use
Teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use) Research
Scholarship Criticism
Comment Restricted access (to students or other appropriate group)

2. the nature of the copyrighted work 

Favoring Fair Use
Published Work Factual or nonfiction-based
Important to educational objectives  

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken

Favoring Fair Use
Small quantity Portion is not central or significant to entire work ("the heart of the work")
Amount is appropriate for educational purposes  

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

Favoring Fair Use
User lawfully purchased or acquired the copy of the original work One or few copies made
Copying will not have a significant effect on the market or potential market for the work  

Source: Adapted from Columbia University's Fair Use Checklist. The Fair Use Checklist  is licensed by a Creative Commons Attribution License with attribution to the original creators of the checklist Kenneth D. Crews (formerly of Columbia University) and Dwayne K. Buttler (University of Louisville).


The information contained in this guide should not be interpreted as a legal opinion or authorization for any specific action.

Copyright versus Plagiarism?

What is the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism?

Plagiarism is an unethical act of academic dishonesty. Copyright infringement can be illegal. Copyright infringement involves utilizing a copyrighted work beyond what is acceptable as "fair use" without the permission of the copyright holder.