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Academic Library Photocopying Guidelines

The following guidelines are based on the U.S. Copyright Law, Circular 21 of the U.S. Copyright Office, and the Model Policy Concerning College and University Photocopying for Classroom, Research and Library Reserve.



Single Copying for Research

At the very least, instructors may make a single copy of any of the following for scholarly research or use in teach or preparing 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, diagram, graph, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

These examples reflect the most conservative guidelines for fair use. They do not represent inviolate ceilings for the amount of copyrighted material which can be photocopied within the boundaries of fair use. When exceeding these minimum levels, however, you again should consider the four factors listed in Section 107 of the copyright act to make sure that any additional photocopying is justified.

Multiple copies for Classroom Use

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per student in a course) may be made by or for that faculty member giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below: and,

2. Meets the cumulative effect test as defined below; and,

3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright

  • Definitions

  • Brevity

a) Poetry: (1) A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or, (2) From a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.

b) Prose: (1) Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or (2) An excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1000 words or 10 percent of the work, whichever is less, but in any even 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) Illustrations: 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 "2" 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 percent of the words found in the text thereof may be reproduced.

  • Spontaneity
    • a. The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual faculty member, and
    • b. 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
    • a. The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
    • b. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, not more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
    • c. 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 news sections of other periodicals.]


Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:

  • a. 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 there from are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.
  • b. 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 like consumable material.
  • c. Copying shall not: (1) substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or periodicals; (2) be directed by higher authority; (3) be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
  • d. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.
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