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Copyright: Fair Use

This guide is a copyright and 508/ADA compliance resource for APUS faculty and students.

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Fair Use: The Basics

Sections 107-118  of the Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) state that the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair if the use meets a certain set of criteria. The following criteria only apply to materials produced in the United States and Israel:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature (Are we selling these materials?)
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (Are the materials being used creative?)
  3. The amount and sustainability of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole (What percentage of this book/article have we used?)
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work. (Is our reproduction of this work causing the copyright owner to lose money?)
The distinction between Fair Use and infringement is never actually defined in the Fair Use sections (107-118) of copyright law. If you are EVER in doubt about whether or not Fair Use applies to a specific situation, it is best to obtain permission to use the materials. mail copyright@apus.edu for assistance.

The Georgia State Case and the "10% Rule" in Fair Use

A recent court decision involving Georgia State University suggests that under Fair Use, approximately 10% of a book may be used without pursuing copyright permissions. Specifically:

  1. If a book contains ten or more chapters, up to one chapter of the text may be used.
  2. If a book contains less than ten chapters, up to ten percent of the total page number of the text may be used.

This criteria only applies to books, including anthologies. Journal articles are not included.

To summarize: to qualify for the Fair Use exemption to copyright infringement, the amount of a copyrighted work that is reproduced must be reasonable.