Using Content: Photocopies

Classroom Guidelines

Register's Notice

Classroom Guidelines
Test Your Copyright Knowledge
What You Need To Know

During the discussions leading to the enactment of the 1976 Copyright Act, the following guidelines were published as part of the House of Representatives Report on the pending bill (H.R. Rep. 94-1476, pages 65-74.)

The purpose of these guidelines is to help educators interpret the fair use provisions relating to classroom copying for educational use. These guidelines are not part of the copyright legislation nor are they legally binding. As part of the legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act, however, they may be helpful in determining Congress's intent in interpreting fair use.

The guidelines do not cover academic coursepacks. To use copyrighted material in academic coursepacks, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or a licensing agent. Click here for more information on photocopying for coursepacks.


    A single copy of the following items may be made for a teacher's scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:
    1. A chapter from a book.
    2. An article from a periodical or newspaper.
    3. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work.
    4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper.
    Multiple copies (not to exceed more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for a teacher giving a course for classroom use or discussion, provided that:
    1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below; and
    2. Meets the cumulative effect test as defined below, and
    3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright.



  1. Poetry: (a) A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or (b) an excerpt of not more than 250 words from a longer poem.
  2. Prose: (a) Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words or (b) an excerpt from any prose work provided the excerpt is not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, and a minimum of 500 words.
    (Each of the numerical limits stated in "i" and "ii" above may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished line of a poem or an unfinished prose paragraph.)
  3. Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.
  4. "Special" works: Certain works in poetry, prose or "poetic prose" which often combine language with illustrations and are intended for children and/or a more general audience fall short of 2,500 words in length. Such "special works" may not be reproduced in their entirety. However, an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages and not more than 10% of the words found in the text may be reproduced.


  1. The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and
  2. The inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

Cumulative Effect:

  1. The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
  2. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
  3. There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.
    (The limitations stated in "ii" and "iii" above shall not apply to current news periodicals, newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals.)


  1. Copying shall not be used to create, replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts there from are accumulated or are reproduced and used separately.
  2. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or teaching such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, test booklets and answer sheets.
  3. Copying shall not:
    1. substitute for the purchase of books, publisher's reprints or periodicals;
    2. be directed by higher authority,
    3. be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
  4. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.