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Visual Literacy: Fair Use & Public Domain
A guide to help you locate and cite images & media, and understand copyright & fair use.
Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act outlines four factors in evaluating fair use of material.
Purpose and character of the use (commercial vs nonprofit or educational)
Nature of the copyrighted work
Amount and substantiality of the portion used
Effect of the use upon the market or value of the copyrighted work
Representation agency that grants permissions and reuse of material for most 20th century visual artists.
Public domain is a designation for content that is not protected by any copyright law or other restriction and may be freely copied, shared, altered and republished by anyone. There are four common ways that an item will arrive in the public domain.
The copyright has expired
The copyright owner failed to renew copyright
Copyright owner places the item in the public domain
Copyright law does not protect the type of work created
The Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC) program is intended to assist the user in assessing the intellectual property status of a specific image documenting a work of art, a designed object, or a portion of the built environment.