I think you have been misled on the term, though it is a very slippery one that can be interpreted widely. Single copies made by individuals are not fair use. Fair use is brief, in relation to the whole, quotes or excerpts which aren't for direct gain and don't hurt the copyright holder.
Somehow, if it only benefits one person and not a company, stealing has gained an air of common wisdom legality since Napster. If you buy something and make a copy for personal use, that's a different matter, depending on the mood of the court and the medium involved.