Classroom Copyright (Multiple-Copying) 


What You Can Do

The Fine Print

Print Materials  5:36

Make handouts for classroom discussion or use.

Copies are provided to the students at no charge or at a charge that does not exceed the actual cost of the photocopying and the copyright notice is printed on each copy.  The copies must be made from legally acquired originals.

Books, Periodicals, Newspapers

Make multiple copies as handouts for students in course

Copying must not exceed more than one copy per student in the course. 



A chapter from a book, a journal or newspaper.



The handout is used in a face-to-face teaching activity.  The handout must meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect.


Meet the test of brevity

The complete poem may be copied if less than 250 words and if printed on no more than two pages or an excerpt from a longer poem that does not exceed 250 words.  The limit may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished line of a poem.


Meet the test of brevity

Make copies of a complete article, story, or essay of less than 2,500 words, or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words, or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any case a minimum of 500 words.   The limit may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished prose paragraph.


Copy one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture.

Limited to one illustration per book or per periodical issue.

Special Works

Certain works in poetry, prose, or “poetic prose” which often combine language and illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and at other times for a more general audience fall short of 2,500 words in their entirety.

Such special works may not be reproduced in their entirety; however, an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages of such special work and containing not more than 10% of the words found in the text, may be reproduced by copying.


The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual faculty member.

Example:  Should a faculty member mention he/she is using a poem, article, cartoon, etc., in his/her class the other faculty member learning of this use cannot then copy the item for his/her classroom use.


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 to use.

Example:  The faculty member is reading the morning newspaper and comes across an article that illustrates the point of a lecture later in the day.

Cumulative Effect

The copying of the material is for only one course in the College.

If the faculty member is teaching three sections of the same course, he/she may use the material in only one section.  


Not more than one short poem, article, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author.



Not more than three short poems, articles, or essays may be copied from the same collective work or periodical volume during one semester.

Limit copying from a single book title to three items per semester.

Limit copying from a journal or newspaper volume to three issues per volume.

Public Domain

Works that may be used freely

Publications dated 1922 or earlier

Most United States government publications

Works published before January 1, 1978 AND which did not include a copyright notice.

Permissible Copying Examples




A faculty member may request 27 copies of a one-page excerpt (approximately 450 words) of a book to distribute to students in a class.

The copies may be included in individual notebooks.  Any cost to the students will not exceed the actual cost of copying.


A faculty member may requests 23 copies of a diagram in a book. 

The diagram shows a comparison of the human eye with a camera, and the copies will be distributed to the students in order to enable them to visualize the similarities.

Current news periodicals, newspapers, current news sections of other periodicals

A faculty member may copy and distribute to students articles from these resources.

These resources are not restricted by the cumulative effect guidelines.

Teaching more than one section of the same course?

Copyright guidelines limit educators to use in one class in one semester. 

Contact the library staff to see if the item you want to use is in a library database.  The faculty member may then provide a link for students to access the resource.

Want to use the material next semester

Contact the publisher for permission.


Notice of Copyright

When a copyright notice appears on the first page of the material being copied

E.g. the first page of a journal article or a book chapter, no additional notification of copyright needs to be provided.

Notice of Copyright

When copying a chapter from a book in which the chapters do not include a copyright notice

Make a copy of the copyright notice from the front of the book.


When copying a journal article in a journal issue or an article in a volume of separately authored essays in which the article/essay does not include a copyright notice

The first page of the material copied will be stamped with
NOTICE: This material may be protected by Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code).


Not Permitted



Anthologies, compilations, or collective works.

Copying that creates, replaces, or substitutes for anthologies, compilations, or collective works.

Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts therefrom are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.


Copying of consumables

These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, test booklets, answer sheets, and like consumable material.


Copying to substitute for the purchase of books, publishers’ reprints, or periodicals.


Waiving copyright

The reproduction of multiple copies shall not be directed by higher authority.

A directive from a higher authority cannot override copyright laws.

Term-to-term use.

An individual may not repeat the copying of the same item from term to term.

After the first multiple copying use in the classroom obtain permission from the copyright holder, check with your library staff to see if the material is available in a subscription database, or check the authors’ website.  Students may be referred to a link in the library’s subscription database or an author’s webpage.

Limit on multiple copying for a course

No more than nine instances of multiply copying for one course during the semester.

Current news from periodicals and newspapers aren’t included in this prohibition.


October, 2009


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