Skip to Main Content


Guidelines for Classroom Copying of Books & Periodicals

The following information summarizes the U.S. Copyright Office’s Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians:

Single Copies of Print Materials:

  • A single chapter from a book (5% of work for in print; 10% of work for out of print).
  • A single article from a journal issue or newspaper.
  • A short story, essay, or poem from an individual work.
  • A chart, diagram, graph, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, journal, magazine, or newspaper.

Multiple Copies of Print Materials for Classroom Use:

Permissible When:

  • Copying meets the following tests of brevity:
    a. Poetry: A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or, from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.
    b. Prose: Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or 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.
    c. Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue. 
  • Copying meets the following tests of spontaneity:
    a. Copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and
    b. 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.
  • Copying meets the cumulative effect test as defined below: 
    a. The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
    b. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay, or two excerpts may be copied from works by the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
    c. There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.
    d. The limitations stated in "b" and "c" above shall not apply to current news periodicals and newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals. 
  • Each copy includes a notice of copyright. 


The difference between “fair use” and a copyright “infringement” is not always easy to determine. Claiming fair use requires a circumstance-specific analysis of the intended use of a work, based on the four factors. Here are three examples that illustrate this challenge:

Weight of Evidence Favors Fair Use Gray Area – Opinions May Vary Weight of Evidence Opposes Fair Use
Scanning three pages of a 120 page book and posting it to ANGEL for one semester. Scanning seven pages of a 120 page book and posting it to ANGEL for one semester. Scanning an entire book and posting it to Falcon Online.
Why? If the scanned pages are not the “core” of the work, then the evidence favors fair use. Why? The amount exceeds established standards for acceptable amounts by one page (i.e. greater than 5%). Opinions will vary. Why? Scanning an entire book clearly weighs against all four factors found in

When Distributing Copies:

  • Copies made should not substitute for the purchase of books, journals, etc.
  • Always provide a copyright notice on the first page of the copied material. The American Library Association recommends using, "Notice: This material is subject to the copyright law of the United States."
  • Provide only one copy per student which becomes the student’s property.
  • Copying the works for subsequent semesters requires copyright permission.

 The Following Actions Are Prohibited:

  • Copying may not be used to create, replace, or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.
  • There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable," i.e. workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, test booklets, answer sheets, etc.
  • Copying shall not:
    a. Substitute for the purchase of books, publisher's 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.
  • No charge may be made to the student beyond the actual cost of photocopying.

Guidelines for Using Multimedia

In 1998, the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) issued a Final Report of its work. Although never adopted by the Association of Research Libraries, the CONFU Multimedia Guidelines do provide guidance concerning the use of small portions of multimedia works without obtaining copyright permissions. An overview:

Educator Use:
Educators may use portions of copyrighted materials for curriculum-based multimedia projects and as teaching tools in support of curriculum-based instructional activities.

  • Multimedia projects are to be used for face-to-face teaching.
  • The multimedia projects are to be assigned to students for directed self-study.
  • The multimedia projects can be used for remote, real time instruction on a secure network. Projects can be used for after-class review or directed self-study. Please note that technology is needed to limit access to the network and multimedia project and to prevent copying.
  • The multimedia project can be used by the educator for peer conferences.
  • The multimedia project can be used by the educator for a professional portfolio.

Permission Is Required Under These Conditions: 

  • For commercial reproduction & distribution.
  • For use on a network that entails non-student viewing or no password protection. 

 Attribution and Acknowledgment: 

  • Completely credit your sources. Attributions for each work used are required. Include typical bibliographic information: author, title, publisher, place and date of publication.
  • Include the 4 copyright elements:
    a. Include copyright notice, i.e. “Notice: This material is subject to the copyright law of the United States.”
    b. Include the copyright symbol, ©.
    c. Include the year of first publication.
    d. Include the name of the copyright holder.
  • Complete attributions for images must appear on screen with the image(s) used unless this would interfere with an exam.
  • The opening screen of the multimedia project is to state that copyrighted materials are being used under fair use and are being used according to the Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines.
  • Permission is required for using copyrighted works in multimedia projects if the multimedia project is to be distributed beyond the classroom.
  • Alterations are allowed only if those alterations are part of the instructional objectives.
  • Fair use and the Multimedia Guidelines do not preempt or supersede licenses and contractual obligations when and where they are required.

Suggested Limits:




Up to 10% or three minutes, whichever is less


Up to 10% or thirty seconds, whichever is less

Music, Lyrics, & Music Video

Up to 10% or thirty seconds, whichever is less. No alterations allowed.


Up to 10% or 1,000 words, whichever is less


Up to 250 words or entire poem if work is less than 250 words


Up to five complete images from one artist. Not more than 10% or fifteen images, whichever is less, from a single collected work


Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media:

Locate additional information at The Center for Social Media which has developed several Codes of Best Practices to aid educators in making the best decisions regarding fair use:

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication
The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video
Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use

Guidelines for Internet Resources

Look for terms of use on the Web page itself and abide by them.

Always credit the source.

If you are adding the information to your personal Web page, ask permission or link to the site.

If you receive permission to use the material, keep copies of your request and the copyright holder’s response.