Can I Use Materials in My Book, without Permission, for “Educational Purposes?”

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Online, I found two polls and a graph I want to use in my book.

I don’t know if the items are under copyright. I believe that since it is for educational purposes, the fair use doctrine would apply.

Is that right?


I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. You need to consult with an attorney on all legal matters, including copyrights.

That said, if it was my book…

I’m not a teacher. I’m an author. So, I’m not making photocopies of something to share with students today. Using entire polls or graphics in a for-profit book venture, in my opinion, would not qualify as “fair use” for educational purposes under copyright law.

You need to get written permission from the copyright owners of each item.

The U.S. Copyright office provides this information on its site:

Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians


107 – Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106a, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use Reproduction of Copyrighted Works made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Again, you need to consult an attorney but it would be far faster and cheaper to simply request permission from the firms that own the material you want to use.

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