The Fair Use Checklist and variations on it have been widely used for many years to help educators, librarians, lawyers, and many other users of copyrighted works determine whether their activities are within the limits of fair use under U.S. copyright law (Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act). Fair use is determined by a balanced application of four factors:
the purpose of the use;
the nature of the work used;
the amount and substantiality of the work used;
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the work used.
Those factors form the structure of this checklist. Congress and courts have offered some insights into the speciﬁc meaning of the factors, and those interpretations are reﬂected in the details of this form.
Checklist as Roadmap
As you use the checklist and apply it to your situations, you are likely to check more than one box in each column and even check boxes across columns. Some checked boxes will favor fair use and others may oppose fair use. A key issue is whether you are acting reasonably in checking any given box, with the ultimate question being whether the cumulative weight of the factors favors or turns you away from fair use.
This is not an exercise in simply checking and counting boxes. Instead, you need to consider the relative persuasive strength of the circumstances and if the overall conditions lean most convincingly for or against fair use. Because you are most familiar with your project, you are probably best positioned to evaluate the facts and make the decision.