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What can I use?

Lecture hall

The University of California encourages respect for the copyrights of content creators, and the thoughtful and permissible use of copyrighted materials by the public in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Because the boundaries can be difficult to navigate, this site offers guidance for remaining within the bounds of fair use in teaching, as well as steps for obtaining the proper permissions.

Determining a work's copyright status

The chart below is intended as a guide to help you determine the status of a work and whether permission is needed. You can consult the pages on the left for more in-depth explanations.

Does your use of the work qualify as Fair Use?
Four Factors of Fair Use: Fair use is more likely when:
Purpose of your use

Transformative expression



Nature of the copyrighted work to be used

Work is published

Work is factual or non-fiction
Amount of the copyrighted work to be used

Small excerpt or clip

Not the core of the work being used
Effect your use will have on the market value of the copyrighted work

Only a few copies made

Little impact on reasonable markets for  the work
Is the work protected by copyright?
Work might not be protected by © in the US if it is: Example works:
Facts, ideas, or short phrases

Temperature data

Newtonian physics formulae

Concept for a story

Book titles
Older works in the public domain because of copyright expiration or formalities

Early silent films

Mozart sheet music

“A Tale of Two Cities”
Federal government works

Official NASA photos

CIA Factbook

USGS-authored maps
Do you have permission to use the work?
Creative Commons or other public licenses Ask for permission
Owner provides advanced, blanket permission for the work to be used. If you need permission and there's no blanket license, you can try to contact the copyright owner.