The purpose of this site is to provide faculty, staff, and students in the Connecticut State University system with an understanding of copyright law and fair use. While copyright issues can be complex, everyone needs to understand the basics. Failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties.
This site includes copyright and fair use compliance guidelines, digital tools to help document and determine fair use, and common fair use scenarios.
This site is not intended to provide legal advice. If you are uncertain as to your rights and responsibilities, you are encouraged to seek an attorney’s advice.
Note on Determining Fair Use and Copyright
Trying to determine whether what you are doing falls under the auspices of fair use is not straightforward. One cannot just claim "Fair Use" as an educator as this may lead to the infringement of another's copyright. Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, which provides for fair use, is written vaguely and thus open for interpretation by the courts. As issues of copyright infringement vs. fair use arise they are then decided in court on a case by case basis thereby helping to establish precedent for future similar situations. Few precedents to date exist. What an individual can do, however, is weigh what s/he is doing or intending to the four factors provided within Section 107. Though not an inoculation against copyright infringement, the more criteria and the heavier each is in favor of fair use, the better one can make the claim that s/he is acting within appropriate parameters.