What It Is and Why It’s Important
The fair use doctrine is contained within the United States Copyright Law (Title 17, Chapter 1, § 107). Fair use balances the rights of the creators of intellectual works with the interests of society in using those works, by allowing individuals to use copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, and research without permission from the copyright holder. The U.S. Copyright Law outlines factors for determining whether a use is "fair," as further described below. It is beneficial to consider whether each use of third-party content may qualify as fair use, as this may save time in requesting permission and money in potential permission fees, as well as avoid any rights restrictions enforced by the copyright holder. If you have questions regarding fair use, please contact your Editorial Team for assistance. When in doubt, it is always best to obtain permission for all third-party content used within your work.
Assessing For Fair Use
The U.S. Copyright Law describes four factors that impact whether the use of a work qualifies as fair use. When assessing whether a use qualifies, carefully consider each of these factors. If you determine that your use qualifies as fair use, permission is not required to reuse the content. However, you still must properly cite the material within the manuscript. Please see the Credit Line Quick Guide for more information.
If you have questions regarding fair use, please contact your Editorial Team for assistance. When in doubt, it is always best to obtain permission for all third-party content used within your work.
Please note: Fair use only applies to work protected by U.S. Copyright Law.
Fair Use Factors:
1. What is the purpose and character of your use?
Because SAGE is a commercial publisher, this factor is most often met by uses that transform the original material. Examples of transformative use include:
- Adding commentary, analysis or criticism to the original work.
- Providing new insight to the original work.
- Building upon or extending to the original work.
- Adding new meaning to the original work.
- Providing a different purpose or manner to the original work.
The use is more likely to qualify as fair use if the material is used in a transformative way.
2. What is the nature of the original work?
- Does the original work contain factual information? Fair use is more frequently found if the original work is factual rather than creative or artistic.
- Has the original work been published? Fair use is more frequently found if the original work is published rather than unpublished, because the law supports an author's right to control the first publication of his/her work.
3. What amount and substantiality of the original work is being used?
- Does your work only use the portion of the original work that is necessary to make your point? Fair use is more frequently found if you do not use more than you need.
- Is the portion of the original work that you are using the “heart” of the original work? Even if you use only a small portion of the original work, if the most important portion of the work is used, the use is less likely to be considered fair.
- How much of the original work was used? Use of a portion of the work rather than the whole work is more likely to support fair use. However, there is no set amount or percentage of the original work that may be used to determine conclusively that a use qualifies as fair use.
4. Would your work serve as a substitute for the original work?
- Fair use is more frequently found if your work will not compete with the original work in the marketplace, and therefore would not harm the existing or future market for the copyright owner's original work.
Please note that the information provided on this site is not intended to be legal advice. You may wish to consult with your own legal counsel regarding your legal obligations.