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The following guidelines were developed by an Ad Hoc Committee on Copyright Law Revision incorporating education, author, and publishing representatives. They were included in the House of Representatives report accompanying the Copyright Act of 1976. They are included in the VCSU Manual for the purpose of informing faculty, for assisting faculty in resolving copyright issues, and for facilitating compliance with the copyright laws. Fair use has been defined as the right to use copyrighted materials in a reasonable manner without consent of the author. It has been called one of the most important limitations on the copyright owner's exclusive rights and has been described as the court-developed doctrine that permits teachers, librarians, researchers, scholars, and others to use copyrighted works without paying the copyright holder. For the first time, fair use is now written into the law. Section 107 of P.L. 94-553 reads as follows: 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include:
  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  • the effect to the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
In House Report 94-1476, Congress has written: The criteria of fair use are necessarily set forth in general terms. In the application of the criteria of fair use to specific photocopying practices of libraries, it is the intent of this legislation to provide an appropriate balancing of the rights of creators, and the needs of users. (p.74)

A. Single Copying for Teachers A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:
  • a chapter from a book;
  • an article from a periodical or newspaper;
  • a short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
  • a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.
B. Multiple Copies for Classroom Use Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for the classroom use or discussion; provided that
  • the copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below;
  • meets the cumulative effect text as defined below;
  • each copy includes a notice of copyright.
  • a. Poetry: 9i) A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or (ii) from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.
  • b. Prose: (i) Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or (ii) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 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 a and b above may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished line of a poem or of an unfinished prose paragraph).
  • c. Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.
  • d. Special Works: Certain works in poetry, prose or in poetic prose which often combine language with 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. Paragraph b above notwithstanding 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 thereof, may be reproduced.
  • The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher
  • 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:
  • The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
  • 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.
  • There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term. (The limitations stated in b and c above shall not apply to current news periodicals and newspapers and current sections of other periodicals).
C. Prohibitions as to A and B above Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:
1. Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts therefrom are accumulated or are reproduced and used separately.
2. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be consumable in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and the like consumable material.
3. Copying shall not:
  • substitute for the purchasing of books, music, publisher's reprints or periodicals;
  • be directed by higher authority;
  • be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
4. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.
5. Copying without inclusion of the copyright notice which appears on the printed copy.

D. Permissible copying of off the air public and instructional programs: It permits a school, within certain specified limitations, to record off the air public and instructional programs distributed by the agencies and to retain these recording s for a seven-day period. The signatories to this policy intend to publish lists of programs schools may copy. Teachers and librarians should contact their local public broadcasting station for the program lists and for further information if desired.

E. Copyright laws which pertain to commercial television networks: Under the new law, in Section 108, libraries and archives have been given the right to record newscasts off the air. This same section permits libraries to reproduce copying authorized for library purposes. Other than these, there have been no major concessions to education by the commercial broadcasting industry with the respect to off-the-air taping.

F. Copyright guidelines which pertain to computer software: Reproducing computer software without authorization violates the U.S. Copyright Law. It is a Federal offense. The money paid for a software product represents a license fee for the use of one copy. It does not represent an authorization to copy. Civil damages for unauthorized software copying can be as much as 0,000 or more, and criminal penalties include fines and imprisonment. Bills have been introduced in Congress to strengthen the law and increase penalties.

AGREED March 19, 1976
Ad Hoc Committee on Copyright Law Revision by Sheldon Elliott Steinbach; Arthur Publishing Group
Authors League of America by Irwin Karp
Counsel Association of American Publishers, Inc. by Alexander C. Hoffman, Chairman
Copyright Committee The New Copyright Law:
Questions Teachers & Librarians Ask by the National Education Association with the American Library Association & the National Council of Teachers of English

Sponsored by: Library Director
Established: 1976
Reviewed: Winter 1996
Number Change: October 2010 (formerly V481)