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Copyright on Campus: Copies for the Classroom

This guide describes important components of copyright law and their relevance to the academic environment.

Special Cases

Worksheets, study guides, and other materials that are intended to be "consumable" never satisfy the fair use requirements. These items ought never be used without permission of the copyright holder.

Copying for Personal Use

Single copying for teachers

Single copies may be made of any of the following by or for teachers at their individual request for scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

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

Copies made under these guidelines may be used only by the individual professor for research or preparation.

Do I Really Need Permission?

If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, obtain permission from the copyright holder prior to distributing material to students via photocopies, electronic copies, or copies in any other format:

  1. Am I providing this material as a direct substitute for purchasing the work itself or a larger resource?
  2. Does this work comprise more than 2500 words (complete works)?
  3. Does this portion comprise a substantial part of the larger work from which it is drawn?

When permission is required, obtain it by writing directly to the rights holder or by working with a copyright clearance provider such as Copyright Clearance Center or University Readers. Clearance and copying fees may be passed on to students, or they may be paid by the professor or the department requesting the clearance. Each department should adopt a consistent policy regarding the financial burden associated with copied materials.

Reprographics may duplicate copyrighted materials only when presented with a permission letter from the rights holder (or a clearance service) or a completed fair use analysis checklist. Permission letters specify the academic term for which permission has been granted, along with the total number of copies authorized by the rights holder.

Faculty who believe that the fair use guidelines allow use of their chosen materials without permission should consult Ryan Library for help conducting a fair use analysis.

    Tools to Help Evaluate Fair Use

    • Fair Use Checklist: provides a simple overview of fair use considerations.  From the Purdue University Copyright Office.
    • Fair Use Analysis Tool: guides users through the process of determining if a use is fair. Developed by The University of Minnesota Libraries.
    • Fair Use Evaluator: helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, providing a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records. Developed by the American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy.