by: danah boyd
Fair use is an uber tricky legal issue. It is meant to provide protection for people to use copyright material in limited ways without seeking permission. (For example, fair use allows academics to comment on copyrighted content as part of their work.) The problem with fair use as a legal doctrine is that it's defense-only. Anyone can sue you for violating their copyright and you can declare fair use, but you will still have to pay onerous legal bills to defend that claim.