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Copyright: Guidelines for Fair Use

Trying to organize a lesson plan and not sure what copyright allows you to use?

What is it?

Fair Use

  • Allows the user to utilize others materials without stealing the credit of the original creator.
  • Allows the user to have more freedom without additional costs or licenses.
  •  Is included in the Copyright Act of 1976.
  •  Fair Use is based on four factors: Purpose of the Use, Nature of the Publication, Amount and Substantiality of the Whole, and Effect on the Market. 

Guidelines on Fair Use for Teachers


        Single Copying for teachers

o   A single copy may be made of any of the following for his or her scholarly research or us in teaching or preparation to teach a class.

§  A chapter of 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 from a book, periodical, or newspaper. 

Multiple copies for classroom use

o   Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per student in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

§  The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined in the box to the right; and ,

§  Meets the cumulative effect test as defined in the box to the right; and,

§  Each copy includes a notice of copyright (type page verso).


 Prohibitions as to I and II above

o   Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:

§  Copying should not replace or substitute any anthologies, compilations, or collective works.

§  There should be no copying from any workbooks, exercise, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets (if out of print, permission is still required).

§  Copying shall not:

·         discourage the purchase of books, reprints, or periodicals;

·         be directed by higher authority;

·         be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from semester to semester or year to year.

§  No charge shall be made to the student beyond the cost of photocopying.


Russell, Carrie, and Dwayne K. Buttler. "Appendix B." Complete Copyright: an Everyday Guide for Librarians. Chicago: American Library Association, 2004. 191-92. Print.

Buttler's Continua

Russell, Carrie, and Dwayne K. Buttler. "Chapter 2" Complete Copyright: an Everyday Guide for Librarians. Chicago: American Library Association, 2004. 22-23. Print.



(i) Poetry: (a) A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or, (b) from a longer poem, and excerpt of not more than 250 words.

(ii) Prose: (a) Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or (b) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,00 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words. [Each of the numerical limits stated in “i” and “ii” above may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished line of a poem or of an unfinished prose paragraph.

(iii) Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.

(iv)”Special” works: Certain works in poetry, prose or in “poetic prose” which often combine language with illustrations and are intended sometimes for children and at other times for a more general audience fall short of 2,500 words in their entirety. Paragraph “ii” above notwithstanding such “special works” may not be reproduced in their entirety; however, and excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages and not containing more than 10% of the work.


(i) The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher.

(ii) 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.

Cumulative Effect

(i) The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.

(ii) Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay, or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.

(iii) There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.  [The limitations stated in “ii” and “iii” above shall not apply to current news periodicals and newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals.]