Skip to Main Content

Nashville: Fair Use

Your resource for all things learning!

What is Fair Use

Reproduction of any copyrighted material must fall within the limits set under the “Fair Use” guidelines.   “Fair Use” allows for a portion of a work to be used without permission from the author for purposes of teaching, research, news reporting, scholarship, and/or criticism.  According to Title 17 of the U.S. code, “Fair Use” is determined based on:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit 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
  • 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 The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use.


The portion of a work that is subject to fair use guidelines varies depending on the type or media.  These limitations are as follows:

Media Type

Portion Covered under Fair Use


10% or 3 minutes, whichever is shorter


10% or 1000 words, whichever is shorter*

*This does not allow for the copying of an entire chapter of a work if it falls within these guidelines


10% or 30 seconds, whichever is shorter

Illustrations, Photos,

And Graphics

5 images from on artist/photographer, or

10% or 15 images from a published work, whichever is shorter


10% or 2500 fields, whichever is shorter


Copying of consumable materials is never permitted.  Examples of consumable materials are workbooks, tests, answer sheets.

Copying and distribution of copyrighted multimedia (CD-ROMs, DVDs, and VHS) is never permitted. 

Have a Question? We are here to help!

Please state your location/campus in the email.


CopyRight!: Academic permission. (2002). Danvers, MA: Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.

U.S. Copyright Office (2009 May). Fair use. Retrieved from Copyright Web site:

Consortium of Education Affiliates Libraries