Fair Use is one of the most important exceptions to copyright law, especially for students and educators. Under the Fair Use rule of copyright law, someone may use part of another author’s work without asking permission. However, “fair use” is not defined by statute and is therefore wide open to interpretation. Fair use is typically invoked for:
In using part of someone else's work, invoking fair use becomes a good-faith assertion on your part. How much of someone else's work is really only "fair" when a judge says it is in a legal decision. You don't want to be sued for infringement just to find out your use was legally fair, so be careful how you use others' work. Keep in mind that "educational use" alone does not make use of a work fair. Analyze how you are going use a particular work against the following four factors of fair use. Here is what the law says:
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 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.
Guidelines are not hard rules, they just help you decide how you might use material without permission.
Guidelines for Distributing Photocopies
Guidelines for Using Materials Found on the Internet
Guidelines for Using Multi-Media
Multimedia works are created by combining copyrighted media elements such as motion media, music, other sounds, graphics, and text. It is recommended that you use only small portions of other people's works.
Guidelines for what is considered a small portion (these amounts are not rules for determining fair use)