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Fair Use:
GLP’s aggregation of articles and use of images under the Fair Use copyright exception

The GLP aggregates approximately 12 articles and features two new articles each day. Following Fair Use guidelines, we provide the reader with a short excerpt of each aggregated article along with the author’s name, source and the original title, and a link to the original article.

We often add pictures or illustrations. When available, we use pictures or illustrations in the public domain. When we use pictures or illustrations under copyright, we also follow Fair Use exception commonly used by educational organizations and nonprofits.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for certain purposes, such as commentary and criticism, parody or nonprofit educational purposes. This principle recognizes that society can often benefit from the use of copyrighted materials when the use furthers scholarship and education or informs the public.

As specified in the language of the statute, Fair Use purposes include: “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.” The teaching, scholarly and research activities at both nonprofit and for-profit institutions meet this requirement. The four Fair Use factors are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use.
  2. The nature of the work used.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used.
  4. The impact of the use on the market for and value of the work used.

There are many misunderstandings about what constitutes Fair Use. Courts have found that nonprofit institutions such as educational websites like the Genetic Literacy Project operate under the Fair Use exception when they engage in nonprofit instructional, research, public education or scholarly activities for the benefit of the public.

There are no specific guidelines as to how much of a work can be reposted under Fair Use; depending on the circumstances it can be an entire article. The GLP generally reproduces at most 10%-20% of an article or blog. The GLP uses the exact words of the original article in the order they appeared to preserve their meaning, although it does edit out segments to adhere to our self-imposed limit. The GLP does not summarize articles because that would introduce concerns that the GLP is filtering or otherwise presenting a biased accounting.

The GLP changes the title of an article and does its best to preserve the editorial focus of the original piece so as not to confuse Google searches, which could prioritize the title of the excerpted stub on the GLP page over the original article. However, the GLP will comply with any author or source who wants the GLP to use only the original article’s title.

Image use falls under many of the same guidelines. The Fair Use exception allows the use of copyright-protected images under certain circumstances. In general, if a nonprofit organization uses an image for educational, research, commentary or non-profit purposes, or if it transforms the image to create a new meaning or uses the image in a fact-based context that benefits the public, such as informing them about an issue of public interest, then the use of the image is considered Fair Use. That is how images are used on the GLP.

Resources about Fair Use:

Public Counsel Law Center
US Copyright Office
Stanford University