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Copyright, Fair Use & File Sharing: Classroom


(Adapted from the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying)

May I make a single copy for classroom use or research?

A single copy can be made of the following: 

  • A 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  

May I make multiple copies for classroom use?

Multiple copies (not to exceed one copy per student in a course) may be made for classroom use, provided that the copying does not have a significant detrimental impact on the market for the copyrighted work. Classroom copying should meet the standards of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect. 

  • Brevity – Instructors should limit copying to a small portion of the material (for example, a chapter from a book or an article from a journal or newspaper).  
  • Spontaneity – Instructors should not copy the same materials for repeated semesters or for multiple classes without obtaining permission.  
  • Cumulative effect – Copying should not be used to create or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works. Copying should not be used in lieu of purchasing books, publisher’s reprints or periodicals. There shall be no copying of items meant to be “consumable” for example, tests or exercises.  

For a complete explanation of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect see Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying.

What if classroom copying falls outside of fair use?

Instructors wishing to make copies that fall outside of fair use have several options: 

  • For copies of lengthy excerpts from books or journals, the library may be able to purchase the item and put it on reserve for student use. If the library cannot purchase the item they can request permission from the Copyright Clearance Center and the cost will be billed to the academic department.  
  • Instructors who use multiple readings for multiple courses and/or for multiple semesters should assemble a course packet through the university bookstore.  Please allow 2 months for the packet to be completed.  For further information, contact the university bookstore.   
  • Instructors can request written permission from the copyright holder.  

May I show a rented, borrowed, or purchased copy of a video in class?

Legitimate (legally produced) copies of videos may be shown in the classroom as part of face-to-face instruction. The classroom must be restricted to only the educators and the students. See below for extra-curricular use of videos.

May I record something from television and show it in class?

Off-air recordings may be used once by instructors within the course of relevant teaching activities. The program must be viewed within 10 school-days of the recording. PBS has negotiated extended taping rights for many of its programs. For complete instructions on off-air recordings see Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes

May faculty or students incorporate copyrighted works into multimedia presentations?

Both faculty and students can incorporate brief portions of lawfully acquired copyrighted works into multimedia presentations. Generally, up to 10% of the work may be used. In the case of graphics, illustrations or photographs you may use no more than 5 images from one artist or photographer and no more than 10% of the images from a collection.  

Faculty may use the multimedia presentations for: 

  • Student assignments  
  • Remote instruction over a secure network  
  • Conferences, presentations, or workshops  
  • Professional portfolios  

Students may use the multimedia presentations for: 

  • Classroom assignments  
  • Professional portfolios  

Projects used for commercial or noneducational purposes fall outside of fair use. The fair use of copyrighted material in multimedia projects lasts for two years only. Permission must be obtained to use the projects beyond the two years. For complete guidelines on the use of copyrighted materials in multimedia projects see Fair Use Guidelines For Educational Multimedia.  

May I incorporate materials found on the Internet into research or classroom use?

Materials found on the Internet are subject to copyright law in the same way that other media are. See the Fair Use Guidelines For Educational Multimedia. A work does not need to be published or have an attached copyright notice in order to be protected under copyright law. While no specific guidelines have been developed governing use of materials found on the Internet, the principles of fair use must be followed. 

May I use materials created or published outside the United States?

Because of United States involvement in international copyright agreements, some works published or created outside the United States may be used within the United States subject to United States Copyright Law. 

May I use copies of sound recordings or sheet music in the classroom?

  • A single copy of recorded music may be made from recordings owned by the university or an individual professor for use in the classroom.  
  • A single copy of student performances may be made for instructional purposes or as part of a student’s portfolio.  
  • Sheet music of entire works may be copied only for emergency use in performances. Replacement copies should be purchased in due course.  
  • For non-performance academic use copies may be made of sheet music for up to 10% of the entire work.  
  • For complete guidelines see Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music