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Fair Use Reflection & Questions

For the pictures I added to our gallery, I picked images from three movies (Killer's Kiss (1955) by Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick, and Black Swan (2010) by Darren Aronofsky). I think I understand the general ideas of the Fair Use rules, so I will explain my reasoning for why it is ok to use those images for a school project. (1) The purpose if using it for a digital media project would be to transform the images in some way to add a new meaning to it. (2) The movies are published works, but they are fictional which could potentially lead to trouble. (3) I would only be using one image out of movies that contain multiple hours worth of images. However, especially the image from 2001, is a very famous image, so that one is a little trickier, but not a big deal for a school project. and (4) It is just a school project that I use for educational purposes, and I have no intention to try to sell it. I think if I were to print the images out unaltered and put them up in a gallery and made them for sale, I would run into some issues. But if I collage the images together in an interesting way for school, I think it is ok, but giving credit to the directors would not hurt.

I do have a question though: I don't fully understand what is under copyright rules. I read some of the rules, and I understand the part about dates and expiration, but what that is being created in 2017, for example, is protected under copyright. Is it automatic?