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Copyright Issues and Resources: Fair Use

These pages are intended to provide contacts and resources that may assist the UM community in effectively navigating copyright concerns.

Contacts for copyright issues

Tammy Ravas
Associate Professor, Mansfield Library
Visual and Performing Arts Librarian and Copyright Coordinator
(406) 243-4402
tammy.ravas [at]

Wendy Walker
Associate Professor, Mansfield Library
Digital Initiatives Librarian
(406) 243-6004
wendy.walker [at]

Julia Jackman-Brink
Mansfield Library Reserve Materials Supervisor
(406) 243-6730
julia.jackman-brink [at]

Lucy France
University of Montana General Counsel
(406) 243-6786
lucy.france [at]

Fair Use

Fair Use is the cornerstone of most educational uses of copyrighted materials. There are four factors to keep in mind when considering whether your intended use of copyrighted materials constitutes Fair Use:


  • Nature of the work used
    One should determine whether the copyrighted work is fiction or non-fiction. The use of non-fiction works is generally favored more strongly than fiction or drama.
  • Substantiality
    A significant factor in determining Fair Use involves how much of the work is being used. Several guidelines such as the ten percent rule, one book chapter/journal article, etc. offer some assistance in the analysis, but copyright law does not have hard and fast rules in this regard.
  • Transformative effects
    Fair Use also is determined partly on how the work is being used. The key question here is whether the use forms the basis for an additional new factual or creative work, rather than the work merely being used as-is. Generally, the more transformative the use, the more allowable it is.
  • Market effects
    Perhaps the most important Fair Use factor involves whether the proposed use of the work favorably or unfavorably affects the actual or potential commercial market for that work. In other words, one must determine whether actual or potential sales could reasonably be lost from the proposed use of the copyrighted work.


As noted above, Fair Use of copyrighted materials has no hard and fast rules. It is most important to demonstrate a careful consideration of all four factors to determine whether Fair Use applies. If an intended use of the copyrighted work does not clearly constitute Fair Use, permission from the copyright holder to use the copyrighted work must be sought.

Columbia University Libraries and Information Services provides a helpful online Fair Use Checklist created by Kenneth D. Crews and Dwayne K. Buttler to assist you in making your own determination about whether a use would be fair. 

Please also consult the Association of Research Libraries' Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries with respect to how fair use affects academic libraries.  This document was endorsed by the Mansfield Library Faculty as well as The University of Montana Faculty Senate. 

Visual and Performing Arts

Tammy Ravas's picture
Tammy Ravas
Arts and Media Librarian and Copyright Coordinator


MLIB 323

Mansfield Library

University of Montana

Missoula, MT 59812-9936

Ph. 406-243-4402


Please remember that any use of copyrighted works is at user discretion subject to the restrictions and other considerations above. Guidance provided by the Mansfield Library, including the contents of this site, should not be considered legal advice.