Supporting Principles of the Drury University Policy on Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials

  • Drury University fully respects the rights of copyright holders from the time a work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, as set forth in the Copyright Act. These rights may exist whether the work has been copyright registered or not. Where deemed necessary, Drury University faculty, staff, and students should seek appropriate permissions or pay required royalties.
  • Drury University is committed to the fullest exercise of rights accorded to users of copyrighted materials as set forth in the "fair use" provisions of copyright law. Drury University will support its faculty, staff, and students in their good faith efforts to exercise their rights under the fair use provisions for educational purposes.
  • The exercise of fair use must be effected on a case-by-case basis through the balancing of the four factors set forth in the Congressional statute.
    Four factors that must be applied to the circumstances of each use are:
      1. The purpose and character of the use;
      2. The nature of the copyrighted work being used;
      3. The amount and substantiality of the work being used; and
      4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

       These four factors must be evaluated together to determine if their collective weight leans toward fair use or not. An excellent discussion of the principles of fair use is available at:

  • Nonprofit educational purposes, which are crucial in advancing education and scholarship, tend to weigh towards a finding of fair use. However, all four factors must always be considered in determining if a use is fair.
  • In its legislation, Congress has provided significant protection for educators as they seek to interpret the fair use provisions. Educators generally face limited monetary liability provided they have acted in good faith in seeking to apply the four factors.
  • The rights assigned to copyright holders under existing law are essentially marketing rights. The copyright owner has the exclusive rights to, among other things, reproduce the work, prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work, distribute copies of the copyrighted work and perform or display the copyrighted work publicly. One should not interfere with those rights by diminishing the potential market for a work or by selling pirated copies.
  • Existing copyright law also expressly provides for the "fair use" of copyrighted materials for education, research, and specified other purposes. The rule of thumb is that a copyrighted work can be used or copied for educational purposes so long as the use is not solely a substitute for purchasing a copy of the work.
  • Guidelines developed by various interested parties do not determine fair use and may unnecessarily restrict it. Such guidelines, negotiated voluntarily by private parties with strong representation from publishers, impose quantitative restrictions not written into the statutory or case law that the courts would apply. They are binding only between the parties entering into the guidelines or agreements; they do not bind third parties.
  • University faculty, staff, and students must be familiar with the fundamentals of fair use and understand how to apply them in work-related situations. The university will provide appropriate educational opportunities to assist faculty, staff, and students in addressing fair use issues in an informed way.
  • A formal copyright policy that avoids detailed interpretations provides the appropriate flexibility to deal with rapidly changing educational needs in an evolving technological environment. Copyright law, in its statutory and case law aspects, seldom provides definitive interpretations of fair use for specific situations. Reasonable people and legal experts will differ in their opinions of how the law applies in any particular set of circumstances. Computer technology continues creating new circumstances that must be interpreted in the light of the fair use provisions. A flexible policy therefore provides the best guidance to the Drury community.