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Resources about copyright and fair use.

Frequently Asked Questions

The questions concerning copyright are many; the corresponding answers frequently depend upon each unique situation. There are no absolutes within copyright questions.  Every question about copyright must be considered through the lens of Fair Use, “heart-of-the work” (even if the portion used is small), transformativeness etc.

Information within FAQ is intended to address commonly occuring questions that arise in the University community and is not meant to be all-inclusive.  The information presented is not legal advice and should not be construed as such.  All are responsible for compliance with U.S. Copyright Law. 

For specific Copyright Questions contact Milner Library

Common Questions

Information provided from the following source is not considered legal (statutory) advice despite originating from a 'government' source:

Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with Respect to Books and Periodicals

Maybe its in the Public Domain







How much . . . ?


·        No more than 10% of the work if there are 10 or more chapters




·         No more than 1 chapter if there are fewer than 10 chapters


Copyright law isn't very specific about the number of lines that may be used from a single poem.  The concept of “heart-of-the-work” frequently applies.   In general:


Fair Use



Up to ten (10) % of a musical score.


Public Domain music


Using Recorded Music


Music Copyright from College of William and Mary



Anne Shelley,

Music & Multimedia Services Librarian

Sarah Dick

Copyright Officer

Copying: for classroom use, see info under Faculty tab.  

·         One (1) chapter of a book

·         One (1) article from a periodical or newspaper

·         One (1) short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from a collective work

·         A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper


◄ 250 words?

 And if printed on not more than 2 pages



► 250 words?

An excerpt of not more than 250 words



Images, Illustrations

Educational Purposes  Generally allowed under Fair Use Exemptions to Copyright. 


One (1) per book or per periodical issue:

·         chart,

·         graph,

·         diagram,

·         cartoon or picture

Commercial or publication purposes Generally not allowed under Fair Use. These may include the use of images:

·         in a publication, including newsletters, journals, newspapers, or magazines

·         on a website that anyone (not just those with a password) can see, including blogs, wikis, or social networking sites

·         on a product that is for sale

·         on promotional materials, such as pamphlets, ads, or posters

Video / DVD

PPR or Public Performance Rights are not automatic with each video/DVD.  If you wish to show something for other than face-to-face instruction or password protected online access for instruction, check with the library for help determining if your selection has PPR or help with permission(s).

Information about PPR, companies who help with PPR etc.: From The Enoch Pratt free Library

Survey/s, Questionnaires, Instruments

Permission is frequently required—whether found in print or readily available over the internet—when: originally prepared by someone else; you modified, adapted, or otherwise based on an item originally created by someone else.



Frequently copyright is among the rights signed over to a journal publisher.  Permission must then be obtained from the publisher; it is almost always given for use in a thesis or dissertation.


Permission is usually  required from either a publisher and/or co-authors for:

·         Co-authored works, whether published or not

·         Works accepted for publication

·         Produced for an employer or on a grant

·         Your own previously published works

Copyright Information Sites

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Copyright question submittal form