There are many misconceptions surrounding fair use and the creators of Fair Use Week, celebrated February 24-28, 2020, hope to dispel them by educating us all on this expansive doctrine within copyright law.  Copyright law balances the interests of creators and users to encourage creativity and progress in the arts and sciences. One way it does that is through fair use, a four factor test to determine whether the use is transformative. 

Although judge created, the doctrine was codified in the 1976 Copyright Act , PL 94-553. To learn more about the history of the Act and its judicial application, you can access the legislative history through ProQuest Legislative Insight, one of the many databases available to students through the law library.

Students, educators, librarians, artists and authors all benefit from fair use in our daily lives, often without realizing, this infographic explains the many ways fair use touches our daily activites.  There are several other helpful graphics and information on the Fair Use Week website, such as a calendar of events across the country.

To learn more about copyright generally, and fair use specifically, visit our research guide on copyright, which identifies several helpful resources on the topic.

Blogs are another tool to increase your knowledge of fair use. There are several round ups of influentual copyright law cases involving fair use, such as this one from the Copyright Clearance Center, or this one from Stanford University Libraries.  But the most comprehensive and easiest to understand collection of fair use cases can be found on in the form of the Fair Use Index. This resource is consistently updated and designed to be user-friendly.  Researchers can search across the entire database, or limit by jurisdiction or category of work.

So the next time you enjoy a parady, surf the web, or quote another author in your note or comment, remember these actions were made possible by fair use!

Submitted by Elizabeth Manriquez on February 27, 2020

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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