A fair-use rationale is needed for any image which is claimed as non-free content but which you feel belongs in the encyclopedia. This rationale has to establish that a few criteria are met so that the image is not deleted.
Before you write a rationale, ask yourself:
- Is it impossible for this image to be replaced by a free alternative?
- Can I provide the complete source of this image?
- Can I provide the complete copyright status of this image?
- Does the image meet all of the criteria for its type of image?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, the image may be speedily deleted.
Writing a fair-use rationale
A good fair-use rationale will provide:
- a description of the file
- the source and copyright information of the file
- the purpose of the image (identification only, or is it used for critical commentary?)
- how (if applicable) the resolution has been reduced
- why you feel the image is not replaceable with a free alternative
Note also that a fair-use rationale is needed for each article the image is included in. If it will be used in five articles, there should be five distinct fair-use rationales explaining how each use follows these guidelines.
Note that most images require use in critical commentary. This term means that the image must, in some way, be a subject of part of the article. It is not sufficient for the image to just show something - such as a screenshot of an episode - but it must illustrate some concept or claim in the article in such a way that words would be insufficient.
Good examples of fair-use rationales
This is by no means a complete or exhaustive list. Please add to this list as you find good examples.