Skip to Main Content

Copyright and Fair Use: Home

An overview of copyright and Fair Use as it applies to teaching at CSUSB


This guide provides a very basic overview of copyright and fair use as it pertains to using library materials in a course. For more in-depth information on copyright, fair use, and teaching, please contact CSUSB's Academic Technologies and Innovation (ATI) department.

What is Copyright

Copyright Icon

Copyright is the legal right to intellectual property by the creator of that property. In strict terms, the original creator of a work is the only entity that can give permission for the use of intellectual property. However, there are specific clauses that allow for limited use of this property in teaching and by libraries. 


Public Domain

"Public Domain" refers to materials that is not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.

--Definition from Stanford University Libraries

Creative works enter the public domain most commonly due to copyright expiring. In 2020, the copyright on works published in 1924 will expire. In 2021, copyright on works from 1925 will expire, etc.

There are a variety of web sites available that allow you to search for public domain materials.


Fair Use

Fair Use icon    Four Factors of Fair Use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use
  2. The nature of the work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use on the market or potential market for the original work


Fair Use is not black and white, each use should be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Fair Use Tools

Copyright Law

Electronic Resources Librarian

Profile Photo
Stacy Magedanz
Chat requires JavaScript.
5500 University Pkwy.
Pfau Library 053B
San Bernardino, CA 92407
909 537 5103

Copyright Basics Video (CCC)