Guidelines for Using Copyrighted Works

Print Reserves



When a proposed use of any copyrighted work appears to go beyond fair use limitations, the Libraries Copyright Office will seek the required clearances for educational use, and pay any applicable royalty fees.  

When deciding whether your use is a fair use or not, the following four factors should be considered:

1.      The PURPOSE of your use

·         Educational versus Commercial

·         Mere duplication versus Transformative

2.      The NATURE of the work to be copied

·         Fact versus Fiction

·         Published versus unpublished

3.      The AMOUNT of the work you wish to use in relation to the work as a whole

·         Are you excerpting the “guts” of the work?

4.      The EFFECT of your use on the market for, or value of the work as a whole

·         Will your use replace the purchase of the work?

·         Will your use improve the market for the work or harm it?

In addition, for a use to be considered fair, a complete citation must be included on the first page of the material.  Even Public Domain sources must be correctly attributed. 


George Mason University applies the fair use factors on a case by case basis. Please see University Libraries Copyright homepage for links to Title 17, U.S. Code §107.

b.      Any written permission letters you have received from colleagues/authors, or any other preauthorization to use copyrighted materials, such as student forms.

c.        WWW pages are NOT generally accepted unless there are special circumstances.


3.   All readings in a folder or envelope (in order of bibliography).

a.       Please provide good, clean copies (limited black edges).

b.      Each photocopied article/book chapter/reading should be paper-clipped

c.       A copy of the copyright and title pages of each book from which you have taken an excerpt will make it easier to identify the rights holder to the publisher if it is necessary for us to seek permission.



Please contact the Reserves Staff for non-copyright questions: X39561.