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Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Performance Rights

What does Fair Use Mean?


Fair use allows reproduction and other uses of copyrighted works – without requiring permission from the copyright owner – under certain conditions. Be aware that these conditions can be very subjective in the eyes of a jury so it's best to be safe than sorry.  In some cases, you can use copyrighted materials for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), or research.



The following actions are allowed in distance education settings under the TEACH Act: (This is not a complete list)

  • Display (showing of a copy) of any work in an amount comparable to what is provided in a physical classroom setting
  • Performance of nondramatic musical works
  • Performance of "reasonable and limited" portions of other types of work (other than nondramatic literary or musical work), EXCEPT digital educational works
  • Distance-education students may receive transmissions at any location
  • Copying and storage for a limited time or necessary for digital transmission to students
  • Digitization of a section of physical works if no digital version is available or if the digital version is not in an accessible form

The following actions are NOT allowed in distance education:

  • Works that are marketed as part of online instructional activities (commercially available digital educational materials)
  • Unlawful copies of copyrighted works under the U.S. copyright law, if the institution “knew or had reason to believe” that they were not lawfully made and acquired

More information can be found here.

Measuring Fair Use


Fair use involves subjective judgments, often affected by factors such as a judge or jury’s personal sense of right or wrong during a trial.

Here are four factors to keep in mind while determining if fair use can be called upon:

  • the purpose and character of your use
  • the nature of the copyrighted work
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market.

Contact a Campus:

478-471-2709 for the Macon campus library | 478-934-3179 for the Roberts Memorial Library at the Cochran campus | 478-275-6772 for the Dublin campus library

478-374-6833 for the Eastman campus library | 478-929-6804 for the Warner Robins campus library | On the Go? Text-A-Librarian: 478-285-4898

Middle Georgia State University Library

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