Skip to main content

Copyright and Fair Use

Incorporating copyrighted media into multimedia projects

SCENARIO: An instructor or student wishes to incorporate portions of copyrighted materials in a multimedia project for use as part of a course.
GUIDELINE: This is a fair use as long as each portion meets the fair use criteria. Criterion Three, "the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole," is generally the most difficult one to determine. The following guidelines are often used to meet Criterion Three:

  1. Motion Media: Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less
  2. Music, Lyrics, and Music Video: Up to 10%, but in no event more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical piece
  3. Photographs: The reproduction or incorporation of photographs and illustrations is more difficult to define with regard to fair use because fair use usually precludes the use of an entire work. Under these guidelines a photograph or illustration may be used in its entirety but no more than 5 images by an artist or photographer may be reproduced or otherwise incorporated. When using photographs and illustrations from a published collective work, not more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, may be reproduced or otherwise incorporated as part of an educational multimedia project created under Section 2.
  4. Numerical Data Sets: Up to 10% or 2500 fields or cell entries, whichever is less, from a copyrighted database or dataset.

Note: These guidelines for Criterion Three are not intended to limit the types of copying permitted under the standards of fair use which are stated in Section 107 of the Copyright Revision Bill. However, there may be exceptions for longer portions if it is determined that a longer portion is necessary to support a lesson. If a faculty member would like to use more than 25% of an entire work, he/she must first consult his or her liaison librarian.   
SOURCE: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Fair use)

Storing multimedia projects on the Web for a course

SCENARIO: An instructor wishes to store or transmit a multimedia project containing copyrighted materials on the Web for the students in his/her course.
GUIDELINE: This is fair use as long as the instructor has done the following:

  • Followed the guidelines for Incorporating Copyrighted Media into Multimedia Projects
  • Applied technological measures (for example through WorldClassRoom) which not only restrict access to only those students officially enrolled in the course, but also prevent the retention of the work for longer than the class session and unauthorized further dissemination of the work.

SOURCE: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Fair use)

Distributing multimedia projects beyond a course

SCENARIO: An instructor wishes to distribute a multimedia product containing copyrighted materials to persons not enrolled in the course or to another institution.
GUIDELINE: This would not be fair use, since, even for educational uses, educators and students must seek individual permissions for all copyrighted works incorporated in their personally created educational multimedia projects before replicating or distributing beyond their course.
SOURCE:  U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Fair use)

Demonstrating a multimedia project in an educational setting other than a classroom or at a professional conference

SCENARIO: An instructor wishes to demonstrate a multimedia project at in an educational setting outside the classroom or at a professional conference.
GUIDELINE: Demonstrating a multimedia project in an educational setting or at a professional conference would be a fair use since it does not involve replicating or distributing the materials.
SOURCE: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Fair use)