University Library DePaul Library

What is fair use?

A fair use of a copyrighted work refers to the special exemption from infringement granted for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Consider the four factors when determining if copying a work is a fair use:

  • The purpose and character of the use
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market of the copyrighted work

How is fair use assessed?

Any assessment should consider each of the four factors mentioned above separately. If two or more of the factors lean toward fair use, then the copy will likely be a fair use. It’s important to remember that copyright laws must be interpreted to be applied, so reasonable people could disagree on a particular assessment. The best approach is to consider the four factors thoroughly and make consistent decisions.

Who is responsible for assessing copyright?

Staff or faculty members who photocopy and distribute readings or post materials via Blackboard, D2L, the CDM system, or their own personal website, are responsible for tracking public domain, fair usage, and for securing and appropriately documenting any necessary copyright clearances.

DePaul University Libraries assess copyright for readings posted to course reserves or for digitized audiovisual material posted to Blackboard or D2L. The library pays permissions fees within limits as required. A good way to ensure that copied materials have been properly reviewed is to submit requests through the Course Reserves Assistant.

Please note that this explanation of copyright is intended to provide guidance, not a legal opinion. For more information, please visit the Scholarly Communication page on the Library's web site.

What is the TEACH Act?

The TEACH Act expands exemptions for certain performances and displays of copyrighted materials in the classroom to facilitate online and distance learning. Any posted materials must be integral to the class experience and similar to a display or performance that would take place in a live classroom.

What works are exempted under the TEACH act?

Materials that can be displayed under the TEACH Act include charts, maps, and some types of music. Journal articles or book chapters may also be exempted under this law, but the exemption does not apply to class readings that would be ordinarily distributed through e-reserves or purchased by an individual student. Limited portions of plays and operas may be posted. Audiovisual works like videos or DVDS should likewise be posted in limited portions, except in rare cases when the whole work would be used in a live classroom.

What are the technical requirements of the TEACH act?

Access to the posted material must be limited to enrolled students for the duration of the quarter and efforts must be made to reasonably prevent unauthorized copying and distribution. Materials posted to Blackboard or D2L would meet this requirement.