Fair Use

Single copies of the following may be made by, or for, a teacher at the request of the individual for scholarly research; or, for use in teaching or preparation for teaching a class:

  1. A chapter from a book;
  2. An article from a periodical or newspaper;
  3. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
  4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

Multiple copies (not to exceed one copy per student in a course) may be made by, or for, the teacher for classroom use provided that the copying meets the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect and includes a copyright notice. 

1. Brevity    
  1. Complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages, or
  2. A longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.
  1. Either a complete article, story, or essay of less than 2,500 words, or
  2. An excerpt from any prose works of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words.
  1. One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture per book or periodical issue.
"Special” works - works that combine language with illustrations, such as children’s books, and that are less than 2,500 words in their entirety.   
  1. No more than 2 pages of the text; and
  2. No more than 10% of the total words.
2. Spontaneity    

The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher (but shall not be used to substitute for purchase of books, publisher’s reprints or periodicals, and should not be directed by a higher authority).

The 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.  
3. Cumulative effect    

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

There shall not be more than one short poem, article, story, essay, or two excerpts copied from the same author during one course term.  
There shall not be more than three (3) excerpts copied from the same collective work or periodical volume during one course term.  
There may not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one course term.  
No limit has been placed on the number of copies that can be made of newspapers, the current news sections of periodicals, and works in the public domain.  
4. Copyright notice    

In the absence of a verified exception, each copy must include the copyright notice as it appears in the original work.



1. Copying to create, replace, or substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective works, including copies of various works or excerpts which are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.
2. Copying works intended to be "consumable," including, but not limited to, workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, test booklets, answer sheets, and similar consumable material.
3. Copying to substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints, or periodicals.
4. Repeated copying of the same print material with respect to the same teacher from term to term.
U.S. Copyright Office
Explanation of Fair Use and exceptions to the U.S. Copyright Law.
The Fair Use Evaluator is an online interactive tool that can help users understand how to determine if the use of a protected work is a “fair use.” It helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records.
American Library Association
Outstanding information resource on topics such as articles, legislation, tools. court cases, Digital Millennium Copyright, Distance Education and the TEACH Act, Fair Use, general copyright, Google Book Settlement, international copyright, open access, and orphan works.
Center for Internet and Society at Stanford - Fair Use Legal Experts Answer Fair Use Questions (Video) Questions and scenarios are provided.
Transformative Factor and Fair Use - Stanford
If YES to the bulleted questions below, one uses of copyrighted excerpts may be Fair Use.
  • Has the material you have taken from the original work been transformed by adding new expression or meaning?
  • Was value added to the original by creating new information, new aesthetics, new insights, and understandings?
Fair Use - NOLO
Advice with excellent scenarios/examples from Nolo Publishing that began its do-it-yourself legal guides in 1971.
Fair Use Checklist - Columbia University Libraries/Information Services, Copyright Advisory Office
index Designed by Della Curtis, Coordinator
Office of Library Information Services, April 2012