According to the U.S. Copyright Office, fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use. Therefore, under fair use you MAY use copyrighted material without permission under certain circumstances. These are guidelines and open to court interpretation on a case by case basis. If you are not sure your usage of an item falls under fair use, then ask for permission from the copyright holder.
If you are going to use copyrighted material in a school project, then you need to ask yourself these four fair use questions.
Does your usage of an item weight towards or against fair use?
Image provided by MIT Libraries.