Fair Use Copyright Guidelines

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I’m looking this week at some teacher resource books that suggest teachers photocopy texts for their students to study, in preparation for writing their own work. The Copyright Office offers help in sorting out the Fair Use in Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians. Please, if you plan to use texts to study in a classroom, read pp. 7-8, the “Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions with Respect to Books and Periodicals.”

IN particular, if a teacher wants to make mulitple copies for a class to use in studying a topic, s/he should do the following:
Contact the copyright holder and ask permission to use the material in the classroom. In today’s world, you should at least try to email the copyright holder.

If the education project is urgent and there’s no time to ask permission, then Fair Use guidelines apply.

  1. Brevity:
    • Text is limited to 1000 words or 10% of text; or limited to a single 2500 word article.
    • One poem may be used or an excerpt of not more than 250 words.
    • For picturebooks, it is limited to two published pages.
  2. Spontaneity:
    “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.” (With email, I wonder if this test can really be met.)
  3. Cumulative Effect:
    • Only used for one course per year.
    • No more than one short poem, article, story, essay, OR two excerpts from the same author during one class term.
    • No more than three copyings from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
    • No more than 9 instances of multiply copyings per course per class term.
  4. Other Prohibitions:
    • Copying is not a substitute for purchasing anthologies, compilations, etc.
    • No copying from consumable materials such as workbooks.
    • Copying is not a substitute for purchasing books; can’t be directed by a higher authority; be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
    • Students can’t be charged anything except for the cost of copying.

For any other particulars, please read the circular!

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