Understanding Fair Use

This tip is brought to you by librarian Patrick Newell.

In our work and studies, most of us realize that most of the content we use is digital (or gets digitized) content. For many of us who teach, as we build our classes online, we realize how much we rely on outside material for our courses. Outside of work, we share photos, videos, remixed music, and memes (both those we created as well as those found online) via text, email, web pages, and social media. A lot of our work, scholarship, teaching, and personal lives that take place online involve using materials created by other people (or companies) and sharing these materials with others.   

When preparing for classes, faculty constantly make decisions about materials regarding what documents we post online, what videos (and how much) we can show in an online class, and what materials we distribute in a classroom, and each of these decisions involve copyright law.  While copyright law provides copyright holders exclusive rights, it also provides a number of exceptions to these rights, including the legal right of fair use. Fair use is an essential limitation and exception to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances.   

To help educate the campus community about fair use, Meriam Library joins libraries worldwide celebrating Fair Use Week (February 26-March 1, 2024) and have created some fun opportunities to learn more about copyright and how it applies to the materials we use online (and offline) daily.   While fair use (and fair dealing outside of the U.S.) is employed daily by students, faculty, librarians, journalists, and all users of copyrighted material, Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week is a time to promote and discuss the opportunities presented, celebrate successful stories, and explain the doctrine. 

Please consider attending one of these events to Celebrate Fair Use Week with us. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 – 4pm to 530pm; Online Meeting – 90 minutes
Fair Use Boot Camp: How to Document Your Fair Use Argument
Please register at https://forms.gle/Jg891GrYQJREtxBo7

This workshop is focused on faculty and students who use copyrighted materials.  The first 60 minutes of this workshop will provide an overview of copyright law, the public domain, authors/creators- and copyright holders-rights (and exceptions to those rights), and how to document a Fair Use argument; the final 30 minutes of the workshop will include discussing the concerns attendees bring to the class and documenting their Fair Use arguments.  This online workshop will not be recorded to allow those attending to openly discuss their copyright issues.   

Thursday, February 29, 2024 – 11am to 1pm; Online Meeting – 120 minutes
Fair Use Study Hall [Non-Drowsy Formula]
Please register at  https://forms.gle/uAiXL9vp4QyL18y58

In this two-hour workshop, we will cover the same material from the Fair Use Boot Camp (above), but at a slower pace and with additional time for group work to resolve questions that arise from members of the class.  This workshop will not be recorded to allow students to openly discuss their copyright issues.   

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 – 12pm to 1pm; Meriam Library’s Innovation Lab
“Seems Fair To Me” – A Copyright Game Show
Cheer on (or shout advice from the audience to) the campus community’s mystery contestants as they answer questions about Fair Use from recent legal cases. This workshop will not be recorded to protect the dignity of all involved.

Please consider joining us for one of these educational opportunities.  We’ve attempted to make them engaging and interesting.  You be the judge! 

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

All past Tuesday Tips are curated on the FDEV website.

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