The purpose of this Copyright Policy (“Policy”) is to provide guidance regarding United States copyright laws as they relate to the use of copyright protected materials in an educational setting, including guidelines regarding the Fair Use of copyrighted material.


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17 of the United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The making of an electronic copy of a copyrighted work by any means constitutes reproduction that is governed by copyright law.

The copyright principles that apply to instructional use of copyrighted works in electronic environments are the same as those that apply to such use in paper environments. For additional information, please refer to the University’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy.

“Fair Use”, in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, recognizes the importance of accessing, using, and building upon copyrighted works in the context of teaching, research, and scholarship. The law establishes “fair use” protection for copying or disseminating copyrighted works without obtaining permission from the copyright owner under certain circumstances. The analysis of “fair use”, whether in the paper or electronic environment, includes:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the material will be for non-profit, educational or commercial use. (Absence of financial gain is insufficient for finding fair use);
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work, with specific consideration given to the distinction between a creative work and informational work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Permission may be required for the use of copyrighted material such as electronic course content even when such material is:

  1. Available elsewhere on the internet;
  2. Being used in a course for the first time; or
  3. Characterized for purposes of course use as optional, supplemental, or ancillary reading material, rather than as required, assigned, or recommended reading material.

No one shall post course content consisting of copyrighted works or portions of such works in electronic form without first either:

  1. Obtaining the permission of the copyright owner; or
  2. Concluding after reasonable inquiry, with the benefit of resources made available by the University for these purposes, that the use qualifies as a fair use or other exempt or licensed use for which permission is not required.

Copies of copyrighted works, regardless of their format, should include proper attribution and copyright notices.

For more information on Copyright and Fair Use, visit


Copyright—copyright grants to the author or originator of a work of original authorship, art or a work that conveys information or ideas, the right to control how the work is used. Copyright grants to the author or originator the sole and exclusive privilege of creating multiple copies of literary or artistic productions and publishing and selling them. Copyright protection exists for original works fixed in any tangible medium of expression, including: literary works; musical works, including any accompanying words; dramatic works, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic work; pictorial, graphic, and sculpture work; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; and sound recordings.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (P.L. 105-304)—a 1998 amendment to the Copyright Act of 1976 that establishes certain limitations of copyright infringement liability for online service providers (OSPs), including colleges and universities, when certain requirements are met by the OSP. The Act contains a number of other provisions, including prohibitions on circumvention of technological protection measures among others.

Fair Use—Fair Use limits the exclusive rights of copyright owners and gives the user rights to reproduce in copies or phonorecords for “purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.”


I. Audiovisuals

Legally produced and obtained audiovisual works may be used in non-profit educational institutions under the following conditions:

  1. The work must be part of the educational program;
  2. The work must be shown by a student, instructor, or guest lecturer;
  3. The work must be shown in a classroom or other school location devoted to instruction; and
  4. The work must be shown only to students in the class, that is, no guest viewing the work for entertainment or enrichment.

II. Prohibited Use

Use is prohibited in non-profit educational institutions when:

  1. The work is used for entertainment, recreation, or even cultural or intellectual value unrelated to teaching activities;
  2. The work is transmitted by radio or television (this includes closed circuit) from an outside location; and
  3. The work is shown in an auditorium before an audience not confined to students.

III. Photocopying

Researchers or teachers preparing to teach a class may make or request to have made a single copy of: 1) a book chapter; 2) an article; 3) a short story, essay, or short poem; 4) a chart, graph, diagram, cartoon, drawing, or picture.

Teachers may duplicate enough copies to provide one copy for each student in a course, as long as each copy includes a notice of copyright and as long as they meet the following three tests:

1. Brevity. For poetry the suggested maximum is 250 words, for prose, the guidelines offer two different limitations. Educators may copy any complete story, essay, or article under 2,500 words or excerpts of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the text. For illustrations, the guidelines suggest no more than one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture per book or periodical issue.

2. Spontaneity. The “inspiration and decision to use the work” must occur so soon prior to classroom use that it would not be feasible to write for and receive permission from the publisher to duplicate the material. It is also imperative that the copying occur at the request of the teacher, not at the directive of an administrator or other “higher authority.”

3. Cumulative Effort. Generally, only one copy may be made of a short poem, article, story or essay. No more than three of these items may be from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term. The most limiting restriction further specifies no more than a total of nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term. Finally, all multiple copying of a particular work is limited to one course; in other words, copying a work to be used in several courses is not likely to be considered a fair use of the material.

IV. Prohibited Copying

  1. Educators are not to create, through photocopying, their own anthologies, compilations or collective works whether brought together in one collection or reproduced and used separately.
  2. Copying must not substitute for the purchase of books, periodicals, or reprints; this prohibition especially applies to the duplication of “consumable” materials such as workbooks, test booklets and standardized tests.
  3. An instructor must not duplicate the same item from one term to another.

For more information regarding this policy, please contact General Counsel.

Policy updated on: Oct. 24, 2018