Intellectual Property:

Fair Use and Public Domain

If you can answer yes to the following questions, your use of the work most likely constitutes fair use.

  • Are you creating something new? (i.e. including excerpts in a commentary piece about a book vs. copying it word for word)
  • Is the copyrighted work factual?
  • Is the used portion of the worked small enough in amount and significance in relation to the work as a whole?
  • Does your use have little or no market impact on the copyrighted work?

A work is in the public domain if it was published in the United States before 1923. If it was published in the United States in 1923 through 1963 the work is in the public domain if the copyright was not renewed during the 28th year after it was first published. Works published in the United States in 1964 through 1977 and works published in 1978 or later are not in the public domain. Works published by the federal government are in the public domain, regardless of publication date.

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