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Copyright & Fair Use Guidelines

Guidelines for Schools, Teachers, and the Classroom



What You Can Do

The Fine Print

Printed Material (short)

Poem less than 250 words; 250-word excerpt of poem greater than 250 words


Articles, stories, or essays less than 2,500 words


Excerpt from a longer work (10 percent of work or 1,000 words, whichever is less)


One chart, picture, diagram, or cartoon per book or per periodical issue


Two pages (maximum) from an illustrated work less than 2,500 words, e.g., a children’s book

Teachers may make multiple copies for classroom use, and incorporate into multimedia for teaching classes.


Students may incorporate text into multimedia projects.

Copies may be made only from legally acquired originals.


Only one copy allowed per student.

Teachers may make copies in nine instances per class per term.


Usage must be “at the instance and inspiration of a single teacher,” i.e., not a directive from the district.


Don’t create anthologies.


“Consumables,” such as workbooks, may not be copied.

Printed Material (archives)

An entire work


Portions of a work


A work in which the existing format has become obsolete, e.g., a document stored on a Wang computer

A librarian may make up to three copies “solely for the purpose of replacement of a copy that is damaged, deteriorating, lost or stolen.”

Copies must contain copyright information.


Archiving rights are designed to allow libraries to share with other libraries one-of-a-kind and out-of-print books.

Illustrations and Photographs





Collection of photographs


Collection of illustrations

Single works may be used in their entirety, but no more than five images by a single artist or photographer may be used.


From a collection, not more than 15 images or 10 percent (whichever is less) may be used.

Although older illustrations may be in the public domain and don’t need permission to be used, sometimes they’re part of a copyright collection. Copyright ownership information is available at or

Video (for viewing)

Videotapes (purchased)


Videotapes (rented)





Teachers may use these materials in the classroom.


Copies may be made for archival purposes or to replace lost, damaged, or stolen copies.

The material must be legitimately acquired.


Material must be used in a classroom or nonprofit environment “dedicated to face-to-face instruction.”


Use should be instructional, not for entertainment or reward.


Copying OK only if replacements are unavailable at a fair price or in a viable format.

Video (for integration into multimedia or video projects)







Multimedia encyclopedias


QuickTime Movies


Video clips from the Internet

Students “may use portions of lawfully acquired copyright works in their academic multimedia,” defined at 10 percent or three minutes (whichever is less) of “motion media.”

The material must be legitimately acquired (a legal copy, not bootleg or home recording).


Copyright works included in multimedia projects must give proper attribution to copyright holder.

Music (for integration into multimedia or video projects)



Cassette tapes




Audio clips on the Web

Up to 10 percent of a copyright musical composition may be reproduced, performed, and displayed as part of a multimedia program produced by an educator or students.

A maximum or 30 seconds per musical composition may be used.


Multimedia program must have an educational purpose.

Computer Software

Software (purchased)


Software (licensed)

Library may lend software to patrons.


Software may be installed on multiple machines, and distributed to users via a network.


Software may be installed at home and at school.


Libraries may make copies for archival use or to replace lost, damaged, or stolen copies if software is unavailable at a fair price or in a viable format.

Only one machines at a time may run the program.


The number of simultaneous users must not exceed the number of licenses; and the number of machines being used must never exceed the number licensed. A network license may be required for multiple users.


Take aggressive action to monitor that copying is not taking place (unless it is for archival purposes).


Internet connections


World Wide Web

Images may be downloaded for student projects and teacher lessons.


Sound files and video may be downloaded for use in multimedia projects (see portion restrictions above)

Resources from the Web may not be reposted onto the Internet without permission. However, links to legitimate resources can be posted.


Any resources you download must have been legitimately acquired by the Web site.


Broadcast (e.g. ABC, NBC, CBS, UPN, PBS, and local stations)


Cable (e.g. CNN, MTV, HBO)


Videotapes made of broadcast and cable TV programs

Broadcasts or tapes made from broadcast may be used for instruction.


Cable channel programs may be used with permission. Many programs may be retained by the teachers for years – see Cable in the Classroom ( for details.

Schools are allowed to retain broadcast tapes for a minimum of 10 school days. (Enlightened rights holders, such as PBS’s Reading Rainbow, allow for much more).


Cable programs are technically not covered by the same guidelines as broadcast television.


Sources: United States Copyright Office Circular 21; Sections 107, 10-8, and 110 of the Copyright Act (1976) and subsequent amendments, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia; cable systems (and their associations); and Copyright Policy and Guidelines for California’s School Districts, California Department of Education.

Note: Representatives of the institutions and associations who helped to draw up many of the above guidelines wrote a letter to Congress dated March 19, 1976, stating: “There may be instances in which copying that does not fall within the guidelines stated [above] may nonetheless be permitted under the criterion of fair use.”

Public Information