I get a lot of questions about Fair Use, mostly in the context of using movie clips to illustrate ideas. I finally got around to looking up what is on the books for copyright law and found this:

In section 107 – 

1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

 

2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

 

3) 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.

 

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.

It seems pretty generous, and I think that it is vague enough to give us some real room to use media to teach. Not bad at all. Usually copyright law drives me nuts.