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Copyright and Fair Use: Photocopying for the Classroom

Photocopying materials for your classroom lecture

The following are general guidelines for photocopying materials in support of your classroom lecture. These suggested guidelines are based on our interpretation of Circular 21. Please note that these "best practices" may not fit every situation.  Moreover, the courts are not bound by these guidelines and the Copyright Act contains no such guidelines, therefore it's advisable that you still conduct a Fair Use Evaluation.

The limits:

  • Poem less than 250 words
  • Excerpt of 250 words from a poem greater than 250 words
  • Articles, stories, or essays less than 2,500 words
  • Excerpt from a longer work (10% of work or 1,000 words, whichever is less)
  • One chart, picture, diagram, graph, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue
  • Two pages (maximum) from an illustrated work less than 2,500 words (usually books for children)

In addition...

  • No more than one copy per student. Usage must be “at the instance of inspiration of a single teacher" and when the time frame doesn't allow enough time for asking permission
  • Only for one course
  • No more than nine instances per class per term (current news publications such as newspapers can be used more often)
  • Don't create anthologies
  • Don't do it every term
  • Copies may be made only from legally acquired originals
  • If time allows, always seek permission from the publisher
  • Can't be directed by "higher authority" (i.e. your boss, supervisor, etc.)
  • Copying can't be a substitute for buying (i.e., faculty who do not want to make their students purchase the book)

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