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3. Fair Use: The four factors

Most of the copyright exceptions describe very specifically who can use the exception and under what precise conditions. Fair use, on the other hand, is much more flexible. Instead of specifying an exact type of user, type of material or amount that qualifies for this exception, fair use describes four factors to consider before using a copyrighted work.

These four factors are:


Purpose & character of use, including whether commercial (i.e. publishing a book) or non-commercial (i.e. using in a classroom assignment)
2. Nature of the original material (what are you using? Images, texts, etc.)
3. Amount and substantiality of the original work (are you using the entire work or just a portion?)
4. Effect on the marketplace or on the work’s value (will your use have a financial impact on the creator?)


When considering whether your use of a copyrighted work is fair use, it is important to consider all four factors together.

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