Open Source Education Resources: Copyright

Discover how open sourced education resources can benefit both students and instructors.

Copyright Quick Guide

Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Services office was created in order to address issues surrounding the use of scholarly materials by faculty and students in the course of research, teaching and communicating scholarship. Explore the Copyright Basics Quick Guide for a great overview of this complex subject.

Evaluating Fair Use


Wondering if your use of copyrighted material qualifies as fair use? Enter your information into this tool and it will help you decide. If you don't understand fair use, complete the informational module. Note: Only a court of law can definitively rule on whether a use is fair or unfair. This tool does not assume or predict a court outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Confused about copyright? Check out the U.S. Copyright Office's Frequently Asked Questions page for assistance.

Copyright & Fair Use Student Guide

Copyright and MU Course Reserves

Students may access course reserves by inquiring at the MU Library Circulation Desk. Electronic reserves may also be accessed via a course-specific code.

Faculty: please visit the MU Library website for detailed information on course reserve policies and procedures, or contact Wendy Loihle at ext. 4522.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. When you're deciding whether a particular resource falls under the fair use doctrine, the following factors must be considered:

Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes. 

Nature of the copyrighted work, e.g. the degree to which the work that was used relates to copyright’s purpose of encouraging creative expression.

Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. Under this factor, courts look at both the quantity and quality of the copyrighted material that was used.

Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Other factors may also be considered by a court in weighing a fair use question, and each case is different. Use your best judgment.

Source: U.S. Copyright Office