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7. Fair Use: Some myths about fair use

Most people have heard of fair use and have some ideas about what it is. Unfortunately, there are many myths or misunderstandings about exactly what fair use covers, what the law states or how it can be applied. Below we dispel just a few of the most common myths about fair use.


Myth 1: All educational use is fair use.
Fact: While many educational uses are considered fair use, there are some activities that do not meet the fair use criteria. For example, a teacher can’t make copies of an entire text book so that students don’t have to buy it.
Myth 2: Every educational use is transformative.
Fact: Using copyrighted works for teaching can often be a transformative use, but not always. For example, using a text book created to teach Biology 101 to teach Biology 101 is not transformative.
Myth 3: All socially beneficial use is fair use.
Fact: Fair use is designed to help balance the rights of the creator and the social benefit of using copyrighted works in certain ways. Not all uses of copyrighted works that would be socially beneficial, however, qualify as fair use. For example, scanning and posting an entire medical text book online for anyone to access for free is socially beneficial but probably not fair use.
Myth 4: All commercial use precludes fair use.
Fact: Many commercial activities, such as newspapers and online news sites, rely heavily on fair use.
Myth 5: It is not possible to have a fair use when a permissions scheme exists for a work.
Fact: Just because rights holders are willing to charge you to use their copyrighted material, does not mean that fair use cannot apply. For example, the Associated Press created a licensing scheme to quote from AP stories but quoting from news stories has long been considered fair use.
Myth 6: Fair use specifies a percentage or amount of a work that is okay to use.
Fact: The law does not state that using 10% of a book or a 30 second song or video clip is fair use. You can often use more than these arbitrary limits, while sometimes using even less might not be fair use. The amount of the original work used is only one of the four factors to consider.




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