Skip to main content

The Research Process :: Step by Step

US copyright laws are designed to prevent people from copying and distributing other people's work without permission. This includes both paper copies (i.e., photocopies, typewritten copies, etc.) and electronic copies (scanned or uploaded). In an academic setting there is a fair use exception to the permission requirement, but it is only available if you meet the guidelines. 

Fair Use is a doctrine of the United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted works without seeking permission typically for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. In determining whether or not use of a copyrighted work is fair the following factors should be considered:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  • and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.