Skip to Main Content

Scholarly Communication

The term "scholarly communication" is a general term that covers research, scholarship, and many different areas of academia.


Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. In copyright law, there are a lot of different types of works, including paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, and so much more!

Several librarians across the CSU put together a copyright specific guide. More information about copyright and fair use is available on the CSU Copyright Guide.


Fair Use

Fair Use is a concept embedded in U.S. law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. (See Title 17, section 107.)

Fair Use in Academia

The Fair Use Doctrine is probably the most important exemption to copyright protections for educational settings, allowing many uses of copyrighted works for the purposes of teaching and research. The complexity of Fair Use and its importance in academia make it imperative that every member of the CSU community understands how to make judgments concerning Fair Use. Review these Common Scenarios to help you determine whether or not Fair Use is appropriate.

What Determines Fair Use?

The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:

  1. The purpose of the use (e.g., commercial vs. educational)*
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (e.g., to what extent is it a creative work)
  3. The amount of the material used (the greater the amount copied, the less likely it is to be Fair Use)
  4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work

* Not all uses in an academic context are automatically considered fair!

Tools to Help You Determine Fair Use

Fair Use Evaluator: Helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a Fair Use claim and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records. Developed by the American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy. Fair Use Checklist: From Columbia University, this widely regarded tool walks you through the necessary steps to determine if how you will use a resource falls within Fair Use. It has been road tested as well: In the recent Georgia State legal case, the court noted that the checklist was a good tool for faculty use. Understanding Fair Use: Developed by The University of Minnesota Libraries.