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Information Literacy

This is a learning guide designed to teach students about information literacy and why it matters.

What is Copyright?

Copyright literally means the right to copy something. Copyright law is the protection for works both published and unpublished, provided by the United States. It provides protection for the author's rights to their work. Copyright law also defines specific ways other people may make use of a copyrighted work without breaking copyright - the author's rights.  

The Copyright Law of the United States can be found in Title 17 of the United States Code, Chapters 1-8 & 10-12.

Works Copyright Protects

  • Literary
  • Dramatic
  • Musical
  • Architectural
  • Cartographic
  • Choreographic
  • Pantomimic
  • Pictorial
  • Graphic
  • Sculptural
  • Audiovisual creations

Copyright and Fair Use

What is Fair Use? 

Fair Use in copyright law allows for the use of copyrighted materials on a limited basis for specific purposes without requiring the permission of the copyright holder. Essentially, Fair Use allows for the use of copyrighted work without permission, as long as the use falls within a set of parameters known as the four factors. 

Four Factor Test

The Fair Use "four factors" are a rubric that allows an individual to make a best case assessment of whether or not their intended use of a copyrighted work falls under a fair use of the materials in question.  

The four factors consider:

- The purpose for which the work will be used.
​- The nature of the work.
​- How much of the work will be used. 
​- The effect the use would have on the market of the work. 

The four factor test does not necessarily provide a clear-cut answer to the question of fair use.  It is up to the individual to weigh each factor and determine if fair use can be applied to the intended use of the copyrighted work.  When a work is used within fair use guidelines, the source must still be cited. Failure to acknowledge the source is plagiarism.

The Fair Use Checklist

​Use the Checklist to determine if the intended use of the copyrighted work falls within the parameters of fair use. 

-Adapted from the Fair Use Checklist published by Copyright Advisory Services of Columbia University, created by Kenneth D. Crews (formerly of Columbia University) and Dwayne K. Buttler (University of Louisville), under Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0).