Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Copyright Office, Libraries to Celebrate Fair Use Impact Feb. 23

February 14th, 2017

Purdue Copyright Office - Fair Use Week 2017“Can I use this copyrighted image in my video… legally?”

That question seems like a relatively easy query, and one that, most likely, you have had to consider if you have ever downloaded content from the web for a class project or a presentation. The answer, though, is not necessarily as simple.

But, before you rush to your computer to edit your video, you may want to take a look at Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, which is referred to as “Fair Use.” Fair Use is so critical to education and libraries that, a few years ago, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) established Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, which set to take place Monday-Friday, Feb. 20-24 this year. Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week raises awareness about the important doctrines of fair use in the U.S. and fair dealing in Canada and other jurisdictions.

Purdue University Libraries and the University Copyright Office will celebrate the importance of Fair Use with discussions and cake from noon-1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 near the main floor entryway to Hicks Library.

“Join us to celebrate and discuss the incredible impact and benefits of fair use, which we enjoy all year long,” noted Director of the University Copyright Office Donna Ferullo.

Fair Use in Education

Fair use is an exception under the U.S. Copyright Act. It allows copyrighted works to be used without the copyright holder’s permission, provided the use complies with the rules of the exception. It is a four factor test that analyzes the purpose and character of the use; the nature of the work being used; the amount of the work being used; and whether the market for the original work will be impacted by the new work. (For more information on applying the fair use factors, check out fair use on the Purdue University Copyright Office’s website at

“In higher education, fair use is used in both teaching and research. Faculty, staff and students probably apply it on a daily basis, many times without even realizing it. Uses can range from showing a video clip in a classroom to quoting passages from a copyrighted work in a student paper or faculty journal article. The fair use exception is critical to promoting advances in arts and sciences, which is the fundamental purpose of the copyright clause in the U.S. Constitution and promulgated by the U.S. Copyright Act,” Ferullo explained.

In the past few years, there have been some high profile cases in which individuals challenged fair use, and the courts ruled in favor of the exceptions. Three noteworthy cases that impacted Purdue were the Google Library Books Project, the Georgia State e-reserves case and the HathiTrust challenge, Ferullo said. Those specific instances of mass digitization were found to be fair use with some caveats. The courts looked to the intent of copyright and ruled that transformative uses, such as what occurred in those three cases, were the essence of what copyright is all about.

For information on major events around the country during Fair Use Week, check out