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Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions


Miller Library's Statement on Copyright
The federal copyright statute governs the reproduction of works of authorship. Works governed by copyright law include books, photographs, music, drama, video and sculpture, as well as software, multimedia, and databases. Copyrighted works are protected regardless of the medium in which they are created or reproduced; thus, copyright extends to digital works and works transformed into a digital format. Copyrighted works are not limited to those that bear a copyright notice. Changes in copyright law states that works published since March 1, 1989 need not bear a copyright notice to be protected under the statute.

The doctrine of "fair use" allows limited copying of copyrighted works without the permission of the owner for certain teaching and research purposes.  Also, there are special limitations and exemptions for the reproduction of copyrighted works by libraries and archives.  

The concept of fair use and its application depends on the facts of the individual situation. The law is evolving and as such there are no clear lines concerning which uses are fair and which are not.  Guidelines for classroom copying by not-for-profit educational institutions have been prepared by a group consisting of the Authors League of America, the Association of American Publishers, and an ad hoc committee of educational institutions and organizations and can help determine if your copying needs are covered under the Fair Use doctrine. Where questions arise, please consult the guidelines for classroom copying and other available source material.  For certain works, permission may also be sought from the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) which will quote a charge for works for which they are able to give permission. The Copyright Clearance Center can be contacted at

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Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with Respect to Books and Periodicals

The purpose of the following guidelines is to state the minimum and not the maximum standards of educational fair use under Section 106 of H.R. 2223. The parties agree that the conditions determining the extent of permissible copying the educational purpose may change in the future; that certain types of copying permitted under these guidelines may not be permissible in the future; and conversely that in the future other types of copying not permitted under these guidelines may be permissible under revised guidelines.

Moreover, the following statement of guidelines is not intended to limit the types of copying permitted under the standards of fair use under judicial decision and which are stated in Section 107 of the Copyright Revision Bill. There may be instances in which copying which does not fall within the guidelines stated below may nonetheless be permitted under the criteria of fair use.


I. Single Copying for Teachers
A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  • A. A chapter from a book;
  • B. An article from a periodical or newspaper;
  • C. A short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
  • D. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper;

II. Multiple Copies for Classroom Use Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

  • A. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below; and,
  • B. Meets the cumulative effect test as defined below; and,
  • C. Each copy includes a notice of copyright
    • Definitions
    • Brevity
      • (i) Poetry: (a) A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or, (b) from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.
      • (ii) Prose: (a) Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or (b) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words.
        [Each of the numerical limits stated in "i" and "ii" above may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished line of a poem or of an unfinished prose paragraph.]
      • (iii) Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.
      • (iv) "Special" works: Certain works in poetry, prose or in "poetic prose" which often combine language with illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and at other times for a more general audience fall short of 2,500 works in their entirety. Paragraph "ii" above notwithstanding such "special works" may not be reproduced in their entirety; however, an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages of such special work and containing not more than 10% of the works found in the text thereof, may be reproduced.
    • Spontaneity
      • (i) The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher.
      • (ii) The inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.
    • Cumulative Effect
      • (i) The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
      • (ii) Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copies from the same author, nor more than three from the sane collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
      • (iii) There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.
        [The limitations stated in "ii" and "iii" above shall not apply to current news periodicals and newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals.]
III. Prohibitions as to I and II Above
Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:
  • A. Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts there from are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.
  • B. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and like consumable material.
  • C. Copying shall not:
    • (a) substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or periodicals;
    • (b) be directed by higher authority;
    • (c) be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
  • D. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.


Agreed MARCH 19, 1976.

Ad Hoc Committee on Copyright Law Revision: by SHELDON ELLIOTT STEINBACH.

Author-Publisher Group and Authors League of America by IRWIN KARP, Counsel.

Association of American Publishers, Inc. by ALEXANDER C. HOFFMAN, Chairman, Copyright Committee.



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This page was updated on 08/02/16