Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use. Section 107 calls for consideration of the following four factors in evaluating a question of fair use:
In addition to the above, other factors may also be considered by a court in weighing a fair use question, depending upon the circumstances. Courts evaluate fair use claims on a case-by-case basis, and the outcome of any given case depends on a fact-specific inquiry. This means that there is no formula to ensure that a predetermined percentage or amount of a work—or specific number of words, lines, pages, copies—may be used without permission.
Please note that the Copyright Office is unable to provide specific legal advice to individual members of the public about questions of fair use. See 37 C.F.R. 201.2(a)(3).
*Capitol Recs., LLC v. ReDigi Inc., 910 F.3d 649, 660 (2d Cir. 2018); TVEyes, 883 F.3d at 176.
Images are not a special case. Everything on the internet should be presumed to be fully protected by copyright law - including images - unless it specifically states otherwise. There are many images that are freely available to use with or without attribution through public domain or Creative Commons licenses but they are not necessarily easy to find. Sites like Pexels, Pixabay, and MorgueFile are good sources of images that do not need attribution. The Wikimedia Commons has a mix of images that do and do not require attribution. If you use Google Image Search, make sure to filter by usage rights and select "non-commercial reuse."
Taken From IUPUI Center for Teaching & Learning:
Last updated September 2023.
Student Use of Copyrighted Materials for Course Projects
The copyright law does not specifically address student use of copyrighted works. However, the Fair Use Exemption (17 USC § 107) as well as the Education Exemption (17 USC § 110(2); 112(f) do provide considerable latitude for use of copyrighted material within the classroom (traditional or distance learning) and in course related assignments.
If the copyrighted materials incorporated into course assignments qualifies for use under these exemptions ((17 USC § 107; 110(2); 112(f)), the resulting paper or product may be submitted to the teacher for a grade and may be shown to the other students enrolled in the course, including distance learning transmission over the institution's secure electronic network as well as for after-class review or directed self-study.
The paper or product will remain the property of the student. It may be used in their own portfolios as examples of their academic work or for later personal uses such as job and graduate school interviews. It may not be shown, transmitted, or broadcast outside the institution and no copies may be sold or given away.
Students who wish to make copies beyond these narrow constraints, or who wish to make additional uses of their student projects, must get permission for all elements used.
Students should also be familiar with TMU’s Media Ethics Policy and the TMU IT Student Network Use Policy. These are also available on The Master’s University Web site - Student Resources - IT Services - Student Help Documents -- Policies.
Students who fail to comply with TMU’s intellectual property policies will face appropriate disciplinary action which may include expulsion.
Last updated November 2023.