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Copyright for SXU Faculty and Students: Home

Copyright basics, including fair use, public domain, and permissions

Copyright Law and Fair Use Guidlines

The Copyright Alliance is the unified voice of the copyright community, representing the interests of thousands of individuals and organizations across the spectrum of copyright disciplines.

Confused About Copyright?

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public. Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.).


Fair use is a concept embedded in U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. 


ALL FOUR of the following factors are used to determine if a use is fair:


  1. The purpose of the use (commercial vs. educational)*
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (criticism, derivatives, selected examples are more acceptable than simple copying)
  3. The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is fair use; general guidelines are 10% of a work or one chapter of a book)
  4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work (systematic/repeated use requires permission)


* Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered fair use. All other requirements must be satisfied.

Brief video mentioning the key aspects of copyright for Faculty.

Disney character explanation

See the creative Disney derivative video that explains the complicated copyright scenario.

Fair Use Images

Not all images found on the web can be re-used under the Fair Use guidelines. You can find fair use images by searching the Google Image Search Advanced page and selecting the free options on the bottom pull-down. 

Tools You Can Use

Copyright Slider Tool to determine is a work is still protected by copyright.

Fair Use Analysis Tool to determine if a use is fair.

Fair Use Evaluator to collect, organize, and document the information needed to support a fair use claim, and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users records. is a free tool that describes web hosting issues. It allows anyone to see who hosts a particular website; helpful for investigating copyright infringement.




The Library thanks Ingrid Redman, Web Librarian at the Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, for graciously allowing us to borrow from her web pages.

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