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University Laboratory High School Library Copyright Law Guidelines

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General Overview of Fair Use Guidelines

Copyright law provides instances in which the use and reproduction of copyrighted items is allowed. These instances are considered the “fair use exemptions” described in 17 (United States Code) 106 and are found in section 107 of the law:

“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 —

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature, or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

Within these guidelines, specific restrictions have been defined. The following sections describe the situations most commonly encountered, but cannot be considered a comprehensive list. For further information, consult the resources listed below.

Copying Material from Books and Periodicals

Multiple copies may be made for classroom use, provided that:

  1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below.
  2. The copying meets the cumulative effect test as defined below.
  3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright.


  1. Brevity is defined by type of work (e.g. poetry, prose, illustration, and “special” works). In the case of prose, brevity is generally defined as a) either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or b) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10 percent of the work, whichever is less, but a minimum of 500 words.
  2. Spontaneity involves copying that occurs at the inspiration of the individual teacher at a moment when it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.
  3. “Cumulative effect” implies that the copying is for only one course, that not more than one complete piece from the same author nor more than two excerpts from the same author be copied, and that there shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.

Further Prohibitions:

  1. Copying shall not be used to create or substitute for anthologies.
  2. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be “consumable,” such as workbooks, exercises or standardized texts.
  3. Copying shall not substitute for the purchase of materials nor be repeated with 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.

Television and Video

Teachers may show purchased or rented videos for curriculum-supported, face-to-face teaching activities.

Teachers may not show purchased or rented videotapes for entertainment, rewards, rainy days, filler, or non-instructional purposes unless it is covered under University Laboratory High School’s Public Performance Site License. The license covers the following studios: Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Metro-Godwyn-Mayer, Miramax Films, United Artists, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, NBC Universal, Lionsgate, Picturehouse and New Line Cinema.

Off-air recordings:
(Please note: these guidelines do not apply to programs which include educational broadcasting rights)

  • Off-air television recordings may be shown once in class by the individual teachers and repeated only once when instructional reinforcement is necessary.
  • Off-air recordings must be shown during the first ten consecutive school days after the recordings have been made.
  • Off-air recordings can be retained by a non-profit educational institution for a periods not to exceed forty-five calendar days of recording.After the first ten consecutive school days, off-air recordings may be used up to the end of forty-five calendar day retention period only for teacher evaluation purposes.
  • After the first ten consecutive school days, off-air recordings may be used up to the end of forty-five calendar day retention period only for teacher evaluation purposes.
  • A limited number of copies may be reproduced from each off-air recording to meet the needs of teachers under these guidelines.
  • Off-air recordings need not be used in their entirety, but may not be altered or shortened form their original content (i.e., the whole program must be taped). All recordings must include the copyright notice on the broadcast program as recorded.

The Internet and Digital Information

Fair use guidelines apply to making electronic copies of copyrighted works, creating derivative works, and distributing or displaying copyrighted works over a network. Brevity and spontaneity factors, cumulative effect, and notice of copyright are also applied to the use of digital information. For example, it is not permissible to:

  • Post material from the Internet onto another web site without receiving permission from the creator and/or copyright holder.
  • Collect materials from the Internet and compile them into a new work.
  • Scan copyrighted materials (e.g., magazine photographs, slides, cartoons, other illustrations, etc.) for a school publication, multimedia work, or web page.

Copying Music

Permissible Uses:

  1. Emergency copies may be made to replace purchased copies which are not available for an imminent performance, assuming copies will then be purchased to replace the photocopies.
  2. For academic purposes other than performance, copies may be made, but shall not generally constitute more than ten percent of the whole work.
  3. A single copy of recordings of student performances may be made for evaluation or rehearsal purposes.


  1. The provisions described concerning books and periodicals (e.g. spontaneity, “consumability,” creation of anthologies, etc.) apply to copying music as well.
  2. Music cannot be copied for performance purposes.
  3. Copying music cannot be substituted for its purchase.
  4. Music cannot be copied without including the copyright notice which appears on the original copy.

Where to Go for More Information


Online sources for copyright-friendly content