Copyright for Faculty and Staff

Copyright protects the author and the creator of books, music, and articles from those who would copy or reproduce their intellectual or creative works without payment and permission.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works may not require the copyright holder’s authorization. Fair use allows the utilization of a copyright-protected work for non-profit educational purposes. However, fair use is not an exception to copyright compliance. Fair Use is a “legal defense.” That is, if you use a copyright-protected work and the copyright owner claims copyright infringement, you may be able to assert a defense of fair use, which you would then have to prove.

Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act lists four factors to help you determine when content usage may be considered fair use.

Before applying these factors and their application to your work, identify if the use is for education, scholarship or research. If the answer is no, obtain copyright permission to use the content. If the answer is yes, carefully examine the four factors listed below.

  1. Is your use of the material in question of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes?  Courts favor non-profit educational uses over commercial ones. If a particular usage is intended to derive financial or other business benefit from the copyright-protected material, then that is probably not fair use.
  2. Is the work in question, fiction or non-fiction? Use of a purely factual work is more likely to be considered fair use than use of creative work.
  3. What is the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the totality of the copyrighted work?  Generally, the larger the amount used, the less likely the use will constitute a fair use.
  4. What is the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyright-protected work? This factor determines whether the use of a work is likely to result in an economic loss that the copyright holder is otherwise entitled to receive.


  • Copyright is granted automatically. Registration, notice and publication are not required.
  • Fair use is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement and its validity depends on the factors and circumstances surrounding the use.
  • Not all educational uses of copyright-protected materials are considered fair use.
  • Just because content is made available publicly does not mean that it exists legally in the public domain and is free of copyright protection.


The information presented here is only general information, not legal advice, or Franklin University policy. For questions on Copyright at Franklin University, contact


How does Copyright work at Franklin?

Here are the steps to obtain the terms and conditions for the use of the intellectual property of a Copyright holder:

  • Obtain Copyright Permission
  • After contacting the author/publisher, we will forward to you, for your approval, the terms, conditions, and cost requirements
  • If the author/publisher is represented by the Copyright Clearance Center, we will initiate the payment and prepare the Purchase Requisition for your signature
  • If the author/publisher has other arrangements we will instruct you on their remittance procedures

Questions? Contact or see the Copyright Research Guide.

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