What is Fair Use?
The Fair Use Doctrine, U. S. Code, Title 17, Section 107 and 108, provides for limited use of copyrighted materials for educational and research purpose without obtaining permission from a works’ owner. Although fair use was not mentioned in previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.