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Copyright & Fair Use: Fair Use

Fair Use

What is Fair Use?

Each use must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, but in general, Fair Use protects criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

There are four factors that must be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair. These factors are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used
  4. The effect of the use on the potential market for the copyright work

When should I seek permission?

You should seek copyright permission when you intend to use the work for commercial purposes, when you want to use a work in its entirety, or if the use does not comply with Fair Use statutes.

The OCC Faculty Librarians can help you identify which materials are available through library resources and help suggest alternative works that the library system owns.  Contact them directly.    

How do I obtain permission?

Once you have determined that you need to obtain copyright permission to use a work, See OCC Copyright Forms about letter templates on Inside OCC. 

If you would like further assistance, contact your OCC Librarians.

Oakland Community College offers these resources as part of its general copyright information on this site. The information presented is not a substitute for legal advice obtained from a licensed attorney.   

The information contained in Copyright Basics is originally from Wayne State University. Used with permission.

Fair Use and Open Educational Resources

Guidance on using excerpts from copyrighted material inserted into remixes or creations of OERs may be found in the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Education Resources, dated Feb 17, 2021.

Fair Use in a Nutshell
To sum up, individuals (like OER authors) who are contemplating the use of unlicensed copyrighted inserts would do well to follow the example of today’s federal judges, who focus, in effect, on two key analytic questions that effectively collapse the four factors:

  • Did the use “transform” the copyrighted material by using it for a purpose significantly different from that of the original, or did it do no more than provide consumers with a “substitute” for the original?
  •  Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of both the copyrighted work and the use? 

If the answer to these two questions is clearly in the affirmative, a court is likely to find a use fair.”

From the Code, p.28.  “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OER, available at is licensed under CC BY 4.0

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