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Copyright for Digital Media Assignments : What is Copyright?

This guide provides resources regarding copyright for students using images, video, and music for Digital Media Assignments.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a doctrine of US Copyright Law, allowing for the limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the copyright holder. It permits legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another creator's work using a 4-part balancing test. The tricky part about Fair Use is that the balancing test is subjective and open to interpretation.

The four factors judges consider are:

  1. purpose and character of your use
  2. nature of the copyrighted work
  3. amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. effect of the use upon the potential market.


What is Copyright?

Do you ever wonder why:

  •  iTunes charges you $1.29 per song?
  • videos on You Tube of recent episodes of Stranger Things are quickly taken down?


Copyright is a federal law that gives creators of media the exclusive rights to copy, distribute, and mash up the things they create for a limited time.  As you work on any assignment that includes digital media (e.g., images, video, or music) it is good practice to make sure you are abiding by copyright laws. 

Copyright Sources

General resources on copyright law:

Additional Fair Use Resources

Your Librarian Contact Info

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Alex Stark

  A Fair(y) Use Tale

Prof. Eric Faden of Bucknell University (fairly) compiled clips from Disney movies to create a video explaining Fair Use. Double-click the video to see it larger in You Tube.