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Copyright and Fair Use

This guide provides resources and information about copyright and fair use.

Copyright for Course Materials

Online instruction 

The nature of online instruction makes using copyrighted works more complicated. Fair use assessments can be conducted for these materials. For online courses or placing materials in a course management system, instructors can also consider the TEACH Act as well as fair use considerations. View the guide linked below for more information. 

Face-to-face instruction

Due to the face-to-face instruction exception, educators can generally use copyrighted materials for performance or display in their face-to-face instruction, provided they are using said materials for exclusively educational purposes, the copyrighted material has been legally obtained, and the instruction happens in a classroom or other place devoted to instruction. 

This circular from the U.S. copyright office provides information on the reproduction (copying) of copyrighted works for classroom use. This guidance includes making copies for a single course, only using a small amount from a given work – or just enough for the instructional purpose, and providing notices of copyright. A table with some of this guidance can be found on tbelow. 

How Much Can I Use?

Common guidance is a single chapter from a book, or no more than ten percent of the work.

Common guidance is a single article from a journal issue or newspaper. 

Common guidance is a single chart, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, journal, or newspaper; when fair use is applied. 

Permissions are generally required for any commercial or published use.

Common guidance is a single poem, essay, or short story from an individual collected work.

A poem less than 250 words (printed on less than two pages), or if the poem is longer, an excerpt of not more than 250 words. 

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

Common guidance is up to ten percent or three minutes, whichever is less. 

You may need public performance (PPR) rights to show media, unless it is for face-to-face instruction or through limited password protected online access for instruction. PPR are not automatic with each video/DVD. Check with the library for help determining if your selection has PPR or help with permission(s).

Common guidance is ten percent or less of a musical score. 

For music recordings, you may wish to obtain permissions or licensing for use if intending to use outside of reasonable, limited portions for fair use or instructional purposes. 

Guidance regarding producing copies of student performances can be found in Circular 21 from the U.S. Copyright Office. 

Course Reserves

Milner Library can assist faculty by providing access to course materials through the library, by placing such material on course reserve. 


The information contained within this guide is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.

The information on this page is not intended to serve as a complete reference for all aspects of this topic (including the TEACH Act), or as the policy of Illinois State University (ISU) and/or Milner Library.


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