Copyright Basics: Fair Use

Determining Fair Use

Exceptions for Libraries and Archives

Exceptions for the use of Materials in an Educational Setting

The heart of the work
Test Your Copyright Knowledge
What You Need To Know

In 1977, former President Ford contracted with Harper & Row to publish his memoirs. For a fee of $25,000 Time Magazine acquired a license from Harper & Row to publish excerpts from the memoirs approximately one week prior to the release of the book. Half the fee was paid in advance. The balance was due at publication. The Nation, a political magazine, acquired a copy of the galleys of Ford's book (well over 100,000 words) from persons unknown. Two weeks before the Time article was to be published, The Nation published a 2,250-word article about Ford's memoirs in which it quoted, verbatim, between 300 and 400 words. The quotes included Ford's thoughts on the pardon he granted to his predecessor, President Nixon, who had resigned under threat of impeachment and/or criminal prosecution. Time saw The Nation article, cancelled its contract with Harper & Row and refused to pay the fee balance of $12,500. Harper & Row then sued The Nation for copyright infringement and was awarded actual damages of $12,500. The Supreme Court found that The Nation's use of the material was not fair use.