The Valparaiso University Library acknowledges and encourages the appropriate use (i.e., reproduction, distribution, performance, and display) of copyrighted works and materials for teaching, scholarship, and research purposes consistent with federal copyright law and the standards of fair use. Reliance upon the fair use exception should be limited to those cases that clearly meet the fair use balancing test in favor of the intended use, and are carefully documented to support that conclusion.

Section 107 of the copyright law (17 U.S.C. §107) sets forth four factors to be considered, weighed and balanced when making a determination of fair use. These four factors appear below in a format to assist in making this determination. In all cases, considerations on the left side tend to favor fair use while considerations on the right side tip the balance in favor of seek permission. All four factors must be taken into account for each work before reaching a conclusion.

The Four Factors

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes.


Clinical/Health Care


Uses on the left tend to tip the balance in favor of fair use. Commercial use tends to tip the balance in favor of seeking permission from the copyright holder. The uses in the middle, if they apply, are favorable to fair use: they add weight to the tipping force of uses on the left.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work.


A mixture of factual and imaginative

Consumable materials (e.g., workbooks, answer sheets)

Again, uses on the left tend to tip the balance in favor of fair use while uses on the right favor seeking permission. In this case, uses in the middle have little effect on the balance.

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

Small amount relative to the entire work. Examples might include on chapter of a book or the lesser of either 10% or 30 seconds of audio.       More than a small amount or the "heart" of the work. Examples might include an entire poem, essay, journal article or song.

The amount of material should be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantity should be evaluated relative to the length of the entire work and the amount needed. The reproduction of the entire work weighs against fair use. A reproduction that is relatively small, but still uses the "heart" of the work will weigh against fair use. Evaluating the "heart" of a work can be difficult. If in doubt, seek copyright permission.

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Original is out of print or not available and reasonable attempts have been made to obtain a copy or permission to copy.

There is a market for permission fees.

Use substitutes for purchase of the original work.

Item has been used in this course before.

Reproduction that substitutes for purchase of the original weighs heavily against fair use. This factor is closely linked to the other factors. If a use is tipping the balance in favor of fair use after the first three factors are evaluated, lost permission fees need not be considered. However, if after the first three factors, the balance is tipping toward seeking permission, potential lost permission fees must be taken into account in determining market impact.