For educators and students, copyright might seem too rigid. However, there is a part of U.S. Copyright Law that provides considerable flexibility for educational and other uses, such as parodies. It's called the Fair Use Doctrine and it's very important.
The tricky thing about fair use is that there are no hard and fast rules that creators can follow to be sure their use can be considered fair. The measure of determining if something is fair use is if it is determined to be so by a court of law, at which point people using the work may have a lot to lose.
However, there is some guidance that those who wish to use copyrighted work can follow to determine how likely it is that their use is fair. There are 4 factors that people can use to determine if their use of a work is likely to be considered fair use:
Each factor must be considered in turn, and a determination of fair use must be considered in the context of all the factors. The fair use factors are not like a checklist - a determination that each one weighs in favor of fair use is not necessary to consider the use fair. However, a careful consideration of each factor (in writing) before the use is recommended (see the Fair Use Checklist to the left).
|Fair Use Factor||Things to Consider|
|1. Purpose and character of the use||
|2. Nature of the work||
|3. Amount & substantiality of portion used||
|4. Effect on the market||