Copyright and Fair Use Information

Copyright During COVID-19

When moving your course online you may have concerns about copyright and fair use. If you are posting a limited amount of material for a limited amount of time in your course UTC Learn site, it is most likely covered by fair use during the COVID-19 response. Leading copyright librarians agree “making materials available and accessible to students in this time of crisis will almost always be a fair use.” If you have specific copyright concerns during the COVID-19 response, do not hesitate to contact us at

U.S. Copyright Law

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) Library adheres to U.S. copyright law [United States Copyright Act of 1976]. In particular, Section 107, the Fair Use Doctrine, and Section 108, Reproduction by Libraries and Archives, each serve as the guiding principles behind the UTC Libraries' reserves and faculty scanning service policies and procedures.

Fair Use Information

To ensure a balance of the rights of copyright owners and the public interest, Section 107 of the Copyright Act expressly permits the use and copying of copyrighted works without permission; however, the fair use exception to copyright law [United States Copyright Act of 1976, section 107] is open to interpretation, and you must make a fair use determination based on the following four factors:

  • Purpose: the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit education purposes;
  • Nature: the nature of the copyrighted work. Is the work fact-based, published, or out of print?
  • Amount: the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. What portion of the work are you using? Sometimes it is fair to use a small portion of a work; a chapter out of a book, and sometimes it is fair to use the entire work (such as an image) if it is needed for educational instruction or use.
  • Effect: the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

You will need to consider each of these factors when determining if the use of the item is "fair." You do not have to meet each standard when determining fair use, but when more factors weigh in your favor, your use is better justified. If you find that more factors are weighing against you, it is best to obtain permission to use from the copyright holder.

Use the Fair Use Checklist to Evaluate Fair Use

If you are planning on making multiple copies of an item or using protected works for other purposes including posting on campus reserves or within course management systems, you will need to determine if the use is fair. The following checklist was developed by Duke University as a tool to assist their faculty in determining fair use. Complete the checklist for each item where you feel you need to determine and justify fair use. Make a copy for your records to document your decision-making process and good faith effort to apply the factors of fair use.

Download the Fair Use Checklist

Other Helpful Sites

The Fair Use Exception (The University System of Georgia)
Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office (Columbia University)
Scholarly Communication (University of Tennessee at Knoxville Library)
Statement on Copyright, Fair Use and Open Access (University of Tennessee Library Council)