Fair Use Defined: A flexible exemption that allows socially valuable uses of copyrighted material, including educational copying. The “Fair Use” exemption is intended to encourage limited uses of copyrighted works, primarily to create new art, literature, scholarship etc., without permission from the copyright holder.
Fair use applies in many situations, but its application is never certain. A good faith decision in each situation is important. Four factors are balanced to determine fair use:
1. The purpose of the use should be for non-profit education. If the use adds to the original in some creative way (like commenting on a poem or making a parody), the fair use argument is stronger.
2. Factual material is more susceptible to fair use; creative work like music and art gets stronger protection. Unpublished work also gets more protection.
3. Use only that amount of the original work that is necessary to accomplish the educational purpose.
4. Avoid uses that substitute for purchasing available copies; damaging the market for the original counts heavily against fair use.
(with gratitude from the Duke Office of Copyright & Scholarly Communications).