Different fair use policies are typically set by countries that establish and observe copyright laws. Fair use is officially recognized in only a couple of countries, though some other countries have similar policies referred to as “fair dealing.” These policies generally refer to ways in which a work that is protected by copyright can be used without permission from the copyright owner. Such usage is often risky, as the separation between fair use and copyright infringement can be quite fine and is difficult to establish in any strict sense.
Fair use policies are typically set by the laws or legal decisions of a country in relation to the copyright laws of that country. As of 2011, only the US and Israel had established official fair use policies, though some countries, such as Canada, had established similar “fair dealing” policies. The fair use policy of the US basically allows for the use of copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright owner in certain strict settings and purposes. These policies are intentionally vague and instances of disagreements over fair usage often arise and lead to court cases in which a decision must be made regarding the use of a copyrighted work.
The way in which fair use policies in the US function connects closely to copyright laws. In the US, the moment a work of art or creative product is created, the person who created it owns a copyright for it. Anyone else who wants to reproduce or utilize that work must then receive permission from the copyright owner to do so. Fair use policies provide a major exception to this rule, however, in that a work can be used by others without permission under certain circumstances.
These fair use policies typically involve the establishment of four basic components of the usage of a copyrighted item: the purpose of the use, the nature of the work, the amount of the work used, and the effect of the usage on the value of the work. While general guidelines typically allow for a small portion of a work to be used for critical or educational purposes, there are no hard guidelines on what portion can be used and what constitutes a critical work. Similarly, fair use policies often allow for the usage of intellectual property for reasons of parody, but the exact definition of parody can be open to interpretation. Israeli fair use laws follow a similar structure, and consider similar components with relation to fair usage.