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Copyright for Faculty: Text Copyright

Text Copyright

  • Rules for Reproducing Text Materials in Class

Educational Fair Use Guidelines
Educational fair use guidelines pertain to material used in educational institutions for educational purposes. These institutions include K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Educational purposes include:

  1. non-commercial instruction or curriculum based instruction to students at non profit institutions
  2. planned non-commercial study or investigation towards a field of knowledge
  3. presentation of research findings at non-commercial peer conferences, workshops or seminars

Guidelines for Classroom Copying
The following guidelines are based on the Guidelines for Classroom Copying (1976), and can be found in Circular 21, produced by the United State Copyright Office>.

Rules for Reproducing Text Materials in Class
Instructors may make one copy of any of the following: one chapter from a book, an article from a periodical or newspaper, a short story, short essay or short poem; a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper. The number of copies distributed cannot exceed more than one copy per person, and a notice of copyright must be fixed to each copy. In order to meet standards for brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect, the guidelines below also apply in copying works:


  1. A complete poem less than 250 words may be copied if printed on not more than two pages.
  2. An excerpt from a longer poem may be copied if not more than 250 words.
  3. The numerical limits stated above may be expanded for the completion of a line.


  1. A complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words.
  2. An excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1, 000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, and not less than 500 words.
  3. The numerical limits stated above may be expanded for the completion of a sentence or paragraph.
  4. Illustrations of one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture per book or per periodical issue.
  5. Special Works: Certain works in poetry, prose, or in poetic prose which often combine language with illustrations and which are sometimes intended for children and sometimes intended for a more general audience and fall short of 2,500 words in their entirety. For these, "an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages of such special work and containing not more than ten percent of the words found in the text thereof, may be reproduced."


  1. The idea for copying the material must be at the insistence of the teacher.
  2. The time between the decision to use the work and the moment of its use must be so brief that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely response to a permission request.

Cumulative Effect

  1. The copied material is only for one course.
  2. Copying materials for classroom use cannot be used to replace texts or workbooks, therefore the reproduction of workbooks, textbooks, and standardized tests is prohibited. Educational publishers do not consider photocopying a fair use when it is used to replace the purchase of books, reprints, periodicals, tests, anthologies, compilations or collective works.
  3. Only nine instances of multiple copying for one course during one term are allowed.
  4. No more than one short poem, article, story, essay, or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, no more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.

In some instances, reproduction of materials is free from copyright rules. These include works without copyright including:

  1. Faculty exams, homework or problem set answers, lecture notes
  2. Students papers (written student permission must accompany each item)
  3. U.S. Government Publications
  4. Works in the public domain (contact a librarian if you need additional information on which works may fall into the public domain.)

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