Fair use in academia

Students who wish to use copyrighted materials in a thesis or dissertation must show that they have the ability to republish those materials.  One argument students can use is that their use is “fair use.”  This provision of US Copyright allows the reuse of materials if certain conditions are met.  Students sometimes think that all educational use of materials is fair use, but a recent court case illustrates that this is not true.

In order to use copyrighted materials in a thesis or dissertation, there are three simple steps:

  1. Determine if permission is needed to republish copyrighted materials
  2. Obtain permission for copyrighted materials (if necessary)
  3. Document the ability to republish copyrighted materials.

The Graduate School has helpful resources online, including a seminar from our copyright librarian.  Check them out!