When the owner of a copyright sues for infringement, the defendant may argue that it was not copyright infringement but fair use. It is not infringement to use copyrighted works for commentary, criticism, news reporting, or educational use. However the law is usually applied on a case by case basis and you may still find yourself in court.
Fair use is found in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, which outlines a non exclusive set of 4 factors that the courts will consider when deciding if your use is legitimate or not.
Here are the 4 factors the courts look at:
1. what is the character and purpose of the use,
2. what is the nature of the copyrighted work,
3. what is the amount and substantially of the portion used, and
4. what is the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
You should be warned that these 4 factors are subjective and that is why so many of these cases end up on court.