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Guidelines for Classroom Copying of Books and Periodicals

Single Copying for Teachers

Multiple copies for Classroom Use

Prohibitions on Copying

[ These guidelines reprinted below are adapted from the guidelines agreed to by the Authors League of America and the Association of American Publishers, Inc. ]

I. Single Copying for Teachers

A single copy of the following may be made for an instructor at his/her request for (a) scholarly research; (b) use in teaching; or (c) preparation 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 in a collective work, or
  • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper.

II. Multiple Copies for Classroom Use

Multiple copies (never to exceed more than one copy per student) may be made for classroom use or discussion provided that:

The copying falls within the definitions of brevity and spontaneity as defined below, 
The copying meets the cumulative effect tests as defined below; and Each copy includes a notice of copyright.



  • Poetry: (a) a complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages, or (b) from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.
  • Prose: (a) either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or (b) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words.
  • Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.
  • "Special Works:" These are works of poetry, prose or poetic prose that may combine text with illustrations, are usually intended for children, and may be less than 2,500 words in their entirety. Despite the prose guidelines, these works may not be copied in their entirety; an excerpt no more than two published pages and not more than 10% of the words found in the text may be copied.


  • The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher; and
  • The inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use are so close in time that maximum teaching effectiveness would be lost if one had to wait for a reply to a request for permission.

Cumulative effect

  • The copying is for only one course in the school;
  • Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay, or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, no more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term;
  • There should never be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term;
  • Exception: the limitations in (2) and (3) above do not apply to current news periodicals, newspapers, or the current news sections of other periodicals.

III. Prohibitions to Copying

Not withstanding any of the above uses, the following prohibitions always apply:

  • Copying cannot be used to create, replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collection works; replacement or substitution occurs regardless of whether the copies are accumulated or used separately.
  • There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, answer sheet, or standardized tests.
  • Copying shall not:
    • substitute for the purchase of books, reprints or periodicals;
    • be directed by higher authority than the instructor;
    • be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term
  • No charge may be made to the student beyond the actual cost of photocopying.