Fair Use refers to the conditions in which one may use a copyrighted work without receiving permission from the copyright owner. Fair Use allows for commentary, criticism, and parody. There are four factors when evaluating if something applies to the fair use doctrine.
These factors are merely a guide and the courts have proven to be subjective. To invoke a legitimate Fair Use claim, more than one of the four factors should apply. A best-case claim occurs if all the factors can apply.
See below for a broader description of each factor.
This factor examines whether or not a work is being used for commercial or non-profit purposes. If the work is being used for non-profit purposes, there is a better chance that the work is being used under Fair Use.
This factor refers to whether or not the work is factual in nature. One typical example that is given would be biographical information. This type of information would be allowed under Fair Use because it is something factual as opposed to an original work. If the facts come from a published work, it is more likely it would be covered under Fair Use.
This factor evaluates how much of the copyrighted work is used. The less amount used, the better the argument to defend its use under Fair Use. If you use the entire novel, short story, movie, it is hard to defend Fair Use.
This factor evaluates if your use of the copyrighted work affects any revenue or market value of the product. For example, if someone makes copies of a pamphlet for an organization, that impacts the revenue that the copyright holder may make.
The following tools are offered as options for a person who wishes to utilize a protected work to help think through whether their proposed use is fair and to help create the paper trail required as a record of fair use decision-making. If the written exercises are retained they could be used as legal documents. Fair Use decisions are subjective and need to be made by the person utilizing the protected work. These tools will only work if the person working through the questions is completely honest.
American Library Association (ALA)