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Copyright - basics: Fair Use for Instructors

Fair Use for Instructors

Copying by teachers must meet the tests of brevity and spontaneity:
  • Brevity refers to how much of the work you can copy.
  • Spontaneity refers to how many times you can copy.

According to the rule, the need to copy should occur closely in time to the need to use the copies. This is often referred to as the one semester rule. If you use something for one semester only it is likely to be seen as fair use. If you use something repeatedly, it is less likely to be considered fair use. The expectation is that you will obtain permission as soon as possible. Using something over a period of years is not within the spirit of the guideline.

The use of any copies should be for one course at one school.

The copies should include a notice of copyright acknowledging the author of the work.

Special works:
  • Works that combine language and illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and at other times for a general audience are defined as special works.
  • Special works--children's books are the most obvious example--should never be copied in their entirety.
  • An excerpt of no more than two pages or 10 per cent, whichever is less, is the rule for special works.

NOTE:  It is recommended that teachers, faculty, or instructors consider both the special guidelines for instructor and take into account the four factors that are used to evaluate fair use when they are deciding what and how much of a copyrighted work to use.

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