Fair use is a defense that can be raised in response to claims by a copyright owner that a person is infringing a copyright. The fair use exception permits limited use of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. The copyright law establishes four factors that must be considered in deciding whether a use constitutes a fair use. These factors are:
The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
The nature of the copyrighted work;
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.
Although one factor or another may more heavily in a fair use determination, each of the factors must be considered and no one factor alone can determine whether the use falls within the fair use exception. Usually the factors that are the most influential are the first and fourth factors. For more information, see the fair use in the Copyright Law Explained section of the site.