Printed Materials

Uses of Copyrighted Text Materials

Unlike academic coursepacks, other educational materials can be used without permission in certain circumstances. Some of these uses are permitted under the copyright law and others are considered as a fair use. To be certain, we recommend using the Fair Use Checklist.

Classroom Guidelines for Using Copyrighted Text Materials

Keep in mind that none of these guidelines permit creation of coursepacks to avoid paying royalties to the original authors, but they do allow uses that involve copying much less material than is used in a coursepack. Below we answer some basic questions about these guidelines.

What Is an "Educational Use"?

The educational fair use guidelines apply to material used in educational institutions and for educational purposes. Examples of educational institutions include K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Libraries, museums, hospitals and other nonprofit institutions also are considered educational institutions under most educational fair use guidelines when they engage in nonprofit instructional, research, or scholarly activities for educational purposes.

"Educational purposes" means:

  • non-commercial instruction or curriculum based teaching by educators to students at nonprofit educational institutions
  • planned non-commercial study or investigation directed toward making a contribution to a field of knowledge, or
  • presentation of research findings at non-commercial peer conferences, workshops or seminars.
Rules for Reproducing Text Materials for Use in Class

The guidelines permit a teacher to make one copy of any of the following for his/her own use in teaching preparation and research:

  • a chapter from 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.

Teachers may photocopy articles to hand out in class, but the guidelines impose restrictions.

  • Classroom copying cannot be used to replace texts or workbooks used in the classroom.
  • Pupils cannot be charged more than the actual cost of photocopying.
  • The number of copies cannot exceed more than one copy per pupil.
  • A notice of copyright must be affixed to each copy.

Examples of what can be copied and distributed in class include:

  • a complete poem if less than 250 words or an excerpt of not more than 250 words from a longer poem
  • a complete article, story or essay if 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; or
  • one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.
  • 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 (for example, a magazine or newspaper) during one class term. As a general rule, a teacher has more freedom to copy from newspapers or other periodicals if the copying is related to current events.

The idea to make the copies must come from the teacher, not from school administrators or other higher authority. Only nine instances of such copying for one course during one school term are permitted. In addition, the idea to make copies and their actual classroom use must be so close together in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a permission request. For example, the instructor finds a newsweekly article on capital punishment two days before presenting a lecture on the subject.

Teachers may not photocopy workbooks, texts, standardized tests or other materials that were created for educational use. The guidelines were not intended to allow teachers to usurp the profits of educational publishers. In other words, educational publishers do not consider it a fair use if the copying provides replacements or substitutes for the purchase of books, reprints, periodicals, tests, workbooks, anthologies, compilations or collective works.