Educators in nonprofit education institutions can make photocopies of copyrighted works for classroom use following these guidelines.

Teachers preparing to teach a class may make a single copy of a book chapter; an article from a newspaper or journal; a short story, essay or short poem; or a chart, graph, diagram, cartoon, drawing, or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper. In addition, teachers can make one copy for each student in a class provided that each copy includes a copyright notice and meets three tests: the brevity test, the spontaneity test, and the cumulative effect test.

The brevity test determines how much of a work can be copied.

  • A story, essay, or article under 2,500 words can be copied completely.
  • For longer works, educators can copy excerpts if not more than 1000 words or 10% of the work-Be aware that children's books are usually an exception to this ruling because they contain illustrations.
  • Poetry maximum is 250 words--poetry under 250 words can be copied entirely provided they are not printed on more than 2 pages.
  • Don't copy more than 1 chart, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or periodical.

The spontaneity test says that the decision to use the work must occur so soon before the class that it's impossible to write and ask permission to use the work.

The cumulative effect test suggests that a short story, article, story, or essay may be copied only one time and not more than 3 of these items may be from the same collected work-not more than a total of 9 instances of such multiple copying may be done during a class term.

Photocopies may be used in only 1 course. Copying an item for 2 or more class terms is specifically prohibited.

Teachers are specifically prohibited from making photocopies to substitute for buying a work, such as workbooks.

The above guidelines apply only to copying works without permission from the copyright holder. Educators should remember that they always can write to publishers for permission to make multiple copies of a work.


The rental of a videotape bearing the "For Home Use Only" warning and used for instructional purposes in a classroom would fall under the Section 110(1) performance exemption of the Copyright Act. However, a rental agreement brings into play the issue of contract law. The rental agent is not the copyright holder and does not have the authority to grant public performance rights. (Becker, 1992) You must read the rental agreement you sign. The district prefers that you not use rented tapes in the classroom. Go through the District Media Center for videos to use in the classroom.

All videos should be shown face to face in the classroom. DO NOT show videos over the school system unless you have checked out the video from the District Media Center and it has "PERFORMANCE RIGHTS". Not all videos at the media center have performance rights, therefore, they need to be viewed face to face.

Taping Broadcast Television Programs

The following guidelines apply to all commercial television broadcasts and some public broadcasts:

  1. Videotaped recordings may be kept for no more than 45 calendar days after the recording date.
  2. Videotaped recordings may be shown to students only within the first 10 school days of the 45-day retention period.
  3. Off-air recordings must be made only at the request of an individual teacher for instructional purposes, not by school staff in anticipation of later requests by teachers.
  4. The recordings are to be shown to students no more than 2 times during the 10-day period, and the second time only for necessary instructional reinforcement.
  5. The taped recording may be viewed after the 10-day period only by teachers to determine whether to include the program in the curriculum in the future.
  6. If several teachers request the same program, duplicate copies are permitted to supply the requests, with all copies subject to the same restrictions that apply to the original recording.
  7. The off-air recording may not be physically or electronically altered or be combined with others to form an anthology, though the recording do not need to be shown in their entirety.
  8. All copies of off-air recordings must include the copyright notice as recorded on the broadcast program.


Computers software may be loaded onto all computers only if you have a site license or you have one program for each computer.


The law is in the process of being written. Basically you may not use an entire "piece" of anything in a multimedia production. "Piece" may include print, music, pictures, etc. As an example if you use music, the part you use must be short enough to not be recognized as the song. If you are using material from the internet, e-mail the source and ask to use it. Almost always you will get a positive response. Remember to give credit to the source.

Since this is a new field, if you have specific questions please call 801.578.8391.

Copyright Permission

Leave feedback
about this page