Copyright Infringement

Note: The following "quick guide" is a brief summary of the copyright law for the faculty. The vice president for information services serves as the copyright officer and may be consulted for further information.

Classroom Showing of Media Materials

Films, videos, filmstrips, etc., whether purchased, rented, or leased, may be shown in classrooms as part of the established curriculum. They may not be shown for recreation or entertainment without a "nontheatrical-public-performance license."

Duplicating Print Materials for Classroom Use

An individual educator may make

  • Single copies of:
    • chapters of a book;
    • an article from a magazine or newspaper;
    • a short story, short essay, or short poem;
    • a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or a picture from a book, magazine, or newspaper.
  • Multiple copies for classroom use (not to exceed one copy per student per course):
    • a complete poem of less than 250 words;
    • an excerpt, not to exceed 250 words, from a longer poem;
    • a complete article, story, or essay of less than 2,500 words;
    • an excerpt from a larger printed work not to exceed ten percent of the whole or 1000 words;
    • one chart, graph, diagram, cartoon, or picture per book or magazine issue if the individual item is not separately copyrighted; or
    • two pages or ten percent of the words from children's picture books or comic books.
  • All copies must include an appropriate copyright warning notice.
  • Copying must be made by the teacher or at the request of the teaching--not at the direction of higher authority.

An individual educator may not:

  • Copy more than one work or two excerpts from a single author during one class term;
  • Copy more than three works from a collective work or periodical volume during one class term;
  • Make multiple copies of more than nine works for distribution to students in one class term;
  • Use photocopies to create, replace, or substitute for an anthology;
  • Copy "consumable" works, such as workbooks, standard tests, answer sheet, etc.; or
  • Copy the same work from term to term without permission.

Library Reserve

In lieu of classroom distribution, a reasonable number of copies may be placed on reserve for one semester. The number of copies depends on the size of the class, possibly one copy per ten students. Repeated use of a given material requires written permission.

Music Copying

Sheet music

  • An instructor may
    • make an emergency copy for an imminent student performance, if the original copy was lost and there is not enough time to order a replacement copy. The temporary copy must be destroyed promptly after the performance.
    • make multiple copies (up to one per student) of excerpts not constituting an entire performance unit or more than ten percent of the total work for academic purposes other than performance.
    • edit or simplify purchased sheet music, provided the character of the work is not distorted or lyrics added or altered; or
    • duplicate individual parts if they are out of print or unavailable except in complete works and are used for teaching purposes.
  • An educator may not
    • copy to substitute for an anthology or collection;
    • copy from works intended to be "consumable";
    • copy for purposes of performance, except for emergency copies to replace a lost copy (see above);
    • copy to substitute for purchase of music; or
    • copy without including the copyright notice.


  • An educator may make a single recording of student performances. The recording may be retained by the institution or the teacher for evaluation purposes only.
  • An educator may not reproduce musical recordings or convert them to another format (e.g., record to tape, tape to cassette, etc.) without written permission.

Recording Television Programs

Recording off the air or off the cable

  • The guidelines only apply to nonprofit institutions.
  • Television programs may be recorded from broadcast or simultaneous cable transmission to the "general public," which excludes premium-pay programs (e.g., HBO, CineMax, Disney, etc.).
  • Programs may be shown once and repeated once for reinforcement within ten "teaching days" of the broadcast. They may be retained for forty-five calendar days from the date of broadcast.
  • Recording must be made by the teacher or at the request of the teacher.
  • Programs may not be rerecorded at a later date, regardless of the number of times it is rebroadcast.
  • A limited number of copies may be made to meet the needs of several teachers.
  • Programs need not be used in their entirety but may not be edited or electronically altered or combined.
  • All copies must include the copyright notice as it appears in the program.
  • Institutions are expected to implement appropriate control procedures.

Recording Programs at Home for Classroom Use

  • Television programs recorded at home by teachers may be used in the classroom if they meet all the conditions of the Recording Guidelines, noted above.
  • Recording Public Broadcasting System Programs
  • For short-term retention, following the guidelines above.
  • For long-term retention, call the local PBS station for information about extended retention rights for specific programs.

Recording off of Satellites

  • Programs may not be recorded from a television satellite unless the programs are authorized for free reception or the institution obtains a license to copy the program.

Transmission of Audiovisual Works

  • Films, videos, etc., may not be transmitted to classrooms by open- or closed-circuit television without a transmission license or written permission.

Home-Use-Only and Rental-Store Videos

  • Programs labeled "For Home Use Only" or rented from rental stores may be used in classrooms under the following conditions:
    • The programs are shown to students in a face-to-face setting;
    • The programs are shown only in courses given for credit;
    • The programs must be shown only in classrooms or other locations devoted to instruction;
    • The programs must be legitimately-made copies; and
    • The programs may not be shown for entertainment, recreation, or reward.

Computer Software and Databases

Backup copies

  • One backup copy of computer software may be made for archival purposes in case the original is destroyed.

Computer laboratories

  • Except for the backup copy exemption above, software may not be duplicated without appropriate licenses or agreements.

Multiple loading

  • Loading programs into several computers for simultaneous use is only permitted with permission or a license.


  • Computer software may not be used in a network (LAN or WAN) without permission or a license.

Database downloading

  • Downloading from a database is an infringement. Short-term, single-use retention is "accepted" by the copyright owners as a fair use, but long-timer retention and multiple use of data requires a license.

Duplicating Films, Videotapes, Filmstrips, Slidesets, etc.

An educator may duplicate a "small part" of an item for research or instruction. While no guidelines exist for copying these materials, the congressional reports accompanying the Copyright Revisions Act of 1976 suggests that copying ten percent of a program is reasonable, if the ten percent is not the "essence" of the work. An educator may not: Reproduce an audiovisual work in its entirety, or Convert one media format into another (e.g., film to video, filmstrip to slide, etc.), without permission.


Microforms may be copied according to the rules applying to the materials reproduced (e.g., books, periodicals, poetry, etc.). However, microform copies of works in the public domain may be copied freely.


Only a very small part of a newsletter may be duplicated without permission.

Art Works

Art Works may not be duplicated without written permission except for illustrations copied under the "Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying" (see above).

Electrocopying (Computer Scanning)

Art Works: scanning for the purpose of reproduction or for creating derivative works requires permission. Texts: Scanning for research (e.g., textual analysis) is permissible, but Reproduction to create a copy or to prepare a derivative work requires permission.

"Free and Benefit" Performances

Storytelling, poetry readings, and musical performances of non-dramatic works are authorized if (a) admission is free, or (b) the gate receipts, over and above costs, go to a charitable cause, and the performers and managers contribute their services.

Student Projects

Students may copy materials as a learning experience. This includes the right to integrate various materials into computer/sound/visual programs if the resultant product remains the property of the student, is not placed into the school's collection and no copies are sold, broadcast, transmitted, or performed outside the classroom.