Under U.S. Copyright law, certain limited use of a copyrighted work is allowed and is not
considered copyright infringement.
“Fair use” of a copyrighted work is allowed for the limited purposes of non-commercial comment, criticism, news reporting, scholarship, classroom use, or research and is not an infringement of copyright.
There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of
musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.
Four Factors That Determine Whether a Particular Use of Copyrighted Material is Fair Use:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature
or is for nonprofit 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.
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
It is always best to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. However, when it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be
avoided unless the doctrine of “fair use” would clearly apply to the situation.