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Spring 2022 Library Service Updates

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 Guidelines

Printed Material (short)


  • Poem less than 250 words
  • Excerpt of 250 words from a poem greater than 250 words
  • Articles, stories, or essays less than 2,500 words
  • Excerpt from a longer work (10% of work or 1,000 words, whichever is less—but a minimum of 500 words)
  • One chart, picture, diagram, graph, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue
  • Two pages (max) from an illustrated work less than 2,500 words (like children's books)

What You Can Do

  • Teachers may make multiple copies for classroom use and incorporate into multimedia for teaching classes.
  • Students may incorporate text into multimedia projects.

The Fine Print

  • Copies may be made only from legally acquired originals.
  • Only one copy allowed per student.
  • Teachers may make copies in nine instances per class per term.
  • Usage must be "at the instance and inspiration of a single teacher," i.e., not a directive from the district.
  • Don't create anthologies.
  • "Consumables," such as workbooks, may not be copied.


Printed Material (archives)


  • An entire work
  • Portions of a work
  • A work in which the existing format has become obsolete, (e.g., a document stored on a Wang computer)
  • Poem less than 250 words

What You Can Do

  • A librarian may make up to three copies "solely for the purpose of replacement of a copy that is damaged, deteriorating, lost, or stolen."

The Fine Print

  • Copies must contain copyright information.
  • Archiving rights are designed to allow libraries to share with other libraries one-of-a-kind and out-of-print books.


Illustrations & Photographs


  • Photograph
  • Illustration
  • Collections of photographs
  • Collections of illustrations

What You Can Do

  • Single works may be used in their entirety, but no more than five images by a single artist or photographer may be used.
  • From a collection, not more than 15 images or 10 percent (whichever is less) may be used.

The Fine Print

  • Although older illustrations may be in the public domain and don't need permission to be used, sometimes they're part of a copyright collection. Copyright ownership information is available at or


Video (for viewing)


  • Videotapes (purchased)
  • Videotape (rented)
  • DVD
  • Laserdiscs

What You Can Do

  • Teachers may use these materials in the classroom without restrictions of length, percentage, or multiple use.
  • Copies may be copied for archival purposes or to replace lost, damaged, or stolen copies.
  • Teachers or students may decrypt a lawfully made and acquired DVD that is protected by the Content Scramble System (CSS) in order to incorporate short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment (See July 23, 2010 ruling).

The Fine Print

  • The material must legitimately acquired (a legal copy).
  • Material must be used in a classroom or nonprofit environment "dedicated to face-to-face instruction".
  • The use should be instructional, not for entertainment or reward.
  • Copying OK only if replacements are unavailable at a fair price or in a viable format.


Video (for integration into multimedia or video projects)


  • Videotapes
  • DVD
  • Laserdiscs
  • QuickTime Movies
  • Encyclopedias (CD ROM)

What You Can Do

  • Students "may use portions of lawfully acquired copyrighted works in their academic multimedia", defined as 10% or three minutes (whichever is less) of "motion media"
  • Teachers or students may decrypt a lawfully made and acquired DVD that is protected by the Content Scramble System (CSS) in order to incorporate short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment (See July 23, 2010 ruling).

The Fine Print

  • The material must be legitimately acquired (a legal copy, not bootleg or home recording).
  • Copyright works included in multimedia projects must give proper attribution to copyright holder.
  • The use should be instructional, not for entertainment or reward.


Music (for integration into multimedia or video projects)


  • Records
  • Casette tapes
  • CDs
  • Audio clips on the Web

What You Can Do

  • Up to 10% of a copyrighted musical composition may be reproduced, performed and displayed as part of a multimedia program produced by an educator or student for educational purposes.

The Fine Print

  • A maximum of 30 seconds per musical composition may be used.
  • Multimedia program must have an educational purpose.


Computer Software


  • Software (purchased)
  • Software (licensed)

What You Can Do

  • Library may lend software to patrons.
  • Software may be installed on multiple machines, and distributed to users via a network.
  • Software may be installed at home and at school.
  • Libraries may make copies for archival use or to replace lost, damaged, or stolen copies if software is unavailable at a fair price or in a viable format.

The Fine Print

  • Only one machine at a time may use the program.
  • The number of simultaneous users must not exceed the number of licenses; and the number of machines being used must never exceed the number licensed. A network license may be required for multiple users.
  • Take aggressive action to monitor that copying is not taking place (unless for archival purposes).




  • Internet connections
  • World Wide Web

What You Can Do

  • Images may be downloaded for student projects.
  • Sound files may be downloaded for use in projects (see portion restrictions above)

The Fine Print

  • Resources from the Web may not be reposted onto the Internet without permission. However, links to legitimate resources can be posted.
  • Any resources you download must have been legitimately acquired by the Web site.




  • Broadcast (e.g.,ABC,NBC, CBS, UPN, PBS, local television stations)
  • Cable (e.g., CNN,MTV, HBO)
  • Videotapes made of broadcast and cable TV programs

What You Can Do

  • Broadcasts or tapes made from broadcast may be used for instruction.
  • Cable channel programs may be used with permission. Many programs may be retained by teachers for years.

The Fine Print

  • Schools are allowed to retain broadcast tapes for a minimum of 10 school days. (Enlightened rights holders allow for much more.)
  • Cable programs are technically not covered by the same guidelines as broadcast television.


About These Guidelines

The information below was compiled by Hall Davidson, director of the Discovery Educator Network, to help inform teachers on the fair use of copyrighted materials as provided in Chapter 1 of Title 17 of the United States Code. The original PDF version suitable for printing on two pages is available from

Please note:

  • These guidelines are not legally binding. They represent a consensus view of publishers, authors, and educators on what constitutes fair use of copyrighted materials in education, but only the courts can decide whether a particular use fits under the fair use exemption.
  • There may be uses beyond these guidelines which would be permitted under fair use, but the more one exceeds the guidelines the greater the risk of falling out of fair use.

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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