Guide to Using Hekman Library Online

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A critical feature of copyright law is fair use. It can be defined as a flexible right that allows the use of copyrighted works without permission. Kyle Courney, Copyright Advisor for Harvard University, says, "The number one takeaway is for educators to feel confident using fair use." 

Fair Use Provision factors:

  1. Purpose and character of the use.
  2. Nature of the work – factual or creative? Published or unpublished? 
  3. Amount and substantiality. This is situation-specific and flexible; a single use may be for as long as it reproduces what is reasonable to serve the purpose.
  4. Effect on the potential market for, or value of, the work.

“Principle: It is fair use to make appropriately tailored course-related content available to enrolled students via digital network,” (ARL, Code of Best Practices…, p. 14).


  • "Brief" excerpt only
  • Available for duration of course
  • Available only to eligible students and instructor(s)
  • Connection between pedagogical purpose and type/amount of content
  • Full attribution given

“While fair use is absolutely appropriate to support the heightened demands presented by this emergency, [COVID-19 crisis], campuses will need to investigate and adopt solutions tailored for the long-term.” (“Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research,” March 13, 2020, p. 3).

Below you will find a fair use checklist that will help you determine whether your use of a copyrighted work falls under the Copyright Act’s Fair Use provision. Each item must be assessed individually.