Copyright and Fair Use

This Guide has been created to help students and faculty find information about Copyright and Fair Use in an academic setting. This guide does not constitute legal advice.
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  • Copying for Classroom Use

    The copying of copyrighted materials for student learning and research use without written permission may occur in the following instances:

    Single copying for teachers

    Single copies may be made of any of the following by or for teachers at their individual request for scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

    • One chapter from a book;
    • An article from a periodical, journal, 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.

    Multiple copies for student learning use

    Multiple copies (not to exceed more than one copy per student in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for student learning use or discussion; provided that the following three criteria are met:

    • The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity (as defined below).
    • The copying meets the cumulative effect test (as defined below).
    • Each copy includes a notice of copyright. An example is "this material may be protected by Copyright law (title 17, US Code)."


    Brevity: Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, (usually varies 3-8 pages depending on size of page and type) or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10 percent of the work, whichever is greater.

    Spontaneity: The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and the inspiration and decision to use the work.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: Copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.

    More information on these three terms can be found here

    Copying Computer Software

    Computer software is tangible material and can be copyrighted. The Doctrine of Fair Use applies to computer software.

    Permissible uses of copyrighted software owned by or licensed to the University or its faculty:

    • Copying it by using it in a computer's memory.
    • Making one backup or archival copy.
    • Making adaptations in order to use a particular machine.
    • Lending it.
    • Selling it, in which case the backup or archival copy must be destroyed.

    Prohibited uses of copyrighted software:

    • Making copies for gift or sale.
    • Copying a computer program purchased for use at the University in order to use it at home.
    • Copying a computer program purchased for use in one department or school for use in another department or school. A site license should be negotiated to allow multiple uses on campus.

    Placing Materials on Reserve

    Nease Library honors requests from faculty to place course-related items on reserve that are in compliance with US Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107) and the fair use guidelines.

    Faculty can notify the library about books to place on reserve via the Academic Reserves Form or items may be submitted at the library service desk. Check the Course Reserves page for more information.

    As a safeguard against copyright infringement the library has taken the following measures:

    Print Reserves

    • Materials are kept behind the circulation desk and are only available for use in the library unless the professor allows otherwise.
    • Printed copies of journal articles are also available behind the desk and allowed for a 2-hour checkout and are not to leave the library.
    • All copies are removed at the end of the semester and either returned to faculty or discarded.

    To put a book on reserve click here.

    Media Conversion

    VHS is not considered an obsolete format yet in regards to format conversion for archival purposes. While these types of conversions may still be allowed with the permission of the copyright holder, or in the case of small clips fall under fair use, Nease Library does not at this time provide conversion services. For more information about media conversion please click here.