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Faculty & Staff: Copyright and Fair Use: In the Classroom

A guide to copyright rules and regulations specifically for educators. This guide will walk you through the pitfalls of copyright and help you navigate the rules regarding Fair Use.

Standards for Educational Use

TeacherGuidelines for teacher copies

A teacher may make, for their own use related to the classroom, a single copy of:

A book chapter

An article from a journal, magazine, or newspaper

A short work such as a story, essay, or poe

  An image, including charts, graphs, drawings, photographs, or paintings

Group of peopleGuidelines for student copies

A teacher may make multiple copies of the same works to distribute to their students if they meet the following criteria:

Brevity (see Circular 21 [link will open in a new window], page 6 for brevity guidelines)

Cumulative Effect:

No more than one work of a single author is copied

Copies are used for only a single course

Educators limit the distribution of photocopied materials to less than nine instances in a single semester


The decision to use the photocopied material is the teacher's

The decision to use the photocopied material is made so close in time to the classroom need for the material that the teacher could not reasonably expect a timely reply to a request for permission

Each copy made and distributed must contain a copyright notice

Music notesGuidelines for music

Songs: Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever amount is less.

Lyrics: Guidelines related to poetry can apply here, or up to 10% of the content.

*As always, these are general rules of thumb.  You may be able to use more, but be careful to assess any use of music or lyrics using the same four criteria of fair use.

Film cameraGuidelines for movies and film

In a physical seated class you may show an entire movie as long as that movie was acquired legally, and that showing the film is relevant to the educational goals of the course.

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