Skip to Main Content

Fair Use

Fair Use Defined

Fair use is a way to ethically use a limited portion of copyrighted works without seeking permission.

The Catch...

While fair use relieves some of the limitations of copyright, it is not a guarantee that the courts and copyright holder will agree with your fair use determination. Many people mistakenly believe that using something for personal, noncommercial use automatically qualifies as fair use. The United States Copyright Office (2012) warns that “the distinctions between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined.” Even with defining what is transformative, attorney Richard Stim notes that the “definition seems ambiguous or vague” and there are “no hard-and-fast rules, only general rules and varied court decisions”.