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Writing and Style Guide: Copyright


Fair Use Checklist

Consider These Factors Before Using Copyrighted Materials

If you have not obtained permission before copying, download the checklist:

  1. Purpose of the Use
  2. Nature of the Copyrighted Material
  3. Amount Copied
  4. Effect on the Market for the Original

Does the cumulative weight of your choices favor fair use?  Is your decision reasonable?

Is fair use justified? Should you obtain permission before making copies of the work? Please confirm your interpretation and consult directly with a librarian, or email

Resources on Copyright

Luther Seminary Copyright Guidelines & Policy

Section 1: Respect for copyright law

Luther Seminary and its faculty, staff, and students are expected to respect copyright law (Title 17 of the United States Code, for both print and electronic content that is created, copied, distributed, performed, or used in our community.

 Respect for copyright includes but is not limited to:

  • All formats of text, pictures, sound, and video including music and dramatic works
  • Materials produced by the seminary’s faculty, staff, and students
  • Materials available electronically or distributed in print
  • Materials restricted to students in a particular class
  • Materials duplicated or scanned for personal research use

Section 2: Luther Seminary’s copyright policy

Luther Seminary’s facilities, equipment, staff, and student workers shall only be used to copy, scan, stream, record, and/or distribute materials for which:

  • copyright analysis or permission is not needed (see Section 3)
  • favored in a Fair Use Analysis (see Section 4)
  • for which permission has been granted by the copyright holder (see Section 5)

Section 3: Copyright fair use analysis or permission is not needed

  • For linking to materials that are freely available through the Web or available through a licensed database
  • Materials in the public domain which are typically published prior to 1923 (see for additional nuance)
  • Materials offered freely under a Creative Commons license (being sure to observe the terms of the specific license)
  • Performance and display of videos and other works within the limitations of Section 110 of the Copyright Act
  • Materials needed for the print-disabled when accessible copies are not readily available (as described in Section 121 of the Copyright Act)

Section 4: Copyright Fair Use Analysis

When copyright is active and permission has not been obtained, the only way to use copyrighted materials is through fair use. Within the parameters of copyright law, provisions have been made for use of materials by non-copyright holders including “fair use” as codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

“...the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

The Association of Research Libraries describes further applications and examples of fair use in the academic community within its Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (January 2012).


Fair use will generally be assumed when involving a small, appropriate quantity (single chapter,  journal article, or less than 15% of the whole work), with restricted access for personal research or distributed to students in a class, and with a non-profit, educational purpose.


When not within the parameters of the simple analysis, fair use must to be demonstrated by use of the attached Copyright Fair Use Analysis Checklist in consultation with a librarian or the Academic Dean’s Office. Any duplication or electronic posting request relying upon fair use beyond the ordinary analysis above must include a completed checklist, which will be retained as added pages to the copyrighted materials.

Section 5: Obtaining permission

When the Copyright Fair Use Analysis does not favor use, permission is required from the copyright holder. In some cases, the author, publisher, or distributor can be contacted directly or the Copyright Clearance Center ( can usually assist in obtaining and collecting fees for the necessary authorization. Modest fees for instructional purposes may be paid for by the library.

Section 6: Questions and concerns

Questions regarding these guidelines, the checklist, or other copyright issues should be directed to a librarian or sent to Concerns about or violations of this policy should be referred to the Academic Dean’s Office.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (a nonprofit) helps you share your creativity and knowledge.

"Free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work.... Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs."

Subject Guide