Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. It is one type of limitation and exception to the exclusive rightscopyright law grants to the author of a creative work. Examples of fair use in United States copyright law include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test.
The term "fair use" originated in the United States. A similar-sounding principle, fair dealing, exists in some other common law jurisdictions but in fact it is more similar in principle to the enumerated exceptions found under civil law systems. Civil law jurisdictions have other limitations and exceptions to copyright.
Fair use is one of the traditional safety valves intended to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public interest in the wider distribution and use of creative works by allowing certain limited uses that might otherwise be considered infringement.