The primary focus of the copyright law has always been to protect the authors and publishers of books and other printed materials, such as journal and newspaper articles. It is necessary for faculty to have a basic understanding of copyright principles because they deal daily with the communication of ideas and information in printed works, and because they can be held liable for violations. Faculty must promote access to current and past information and thus balance the user's rights against the copyright owner's rights. By abiding by Fair Use guidelines for print materials, faculty members can help ensure a free flow of information into the hands of students and assure a fair return when they are the authors.

The information available here will help faculty and staff understand their rights and responsibilities related to using print materials in the classroom and library.

Rules of Thumb

  • Limit the use of print materials to small parts of a work, such as single chapters from a book, single articles from a journal issue, or several charts, graphs, or illustrations from one source.
  • Faculty may copy a small amount of a copyrighted work for their own personal files for research or to prepare to teach a class. Faculty also may read the material to a class, write it on the blackboard, or make an overhead transparency for use in teaching.
  • Faculty may copy a small amount of a copyrighted work and distribute copies to a class. Include a copyright notice on each photocopy. Properly cite the source.
  • Faculty may copy small excerpts from various sources to develop a coursepack, IF each excerpt complies with “fair use” criteria.
  • Faculty may not copy consumable items, such as workbooks, standardized tests, or answer sheets.
  • Obtain permission to use print materials repeatedly from term to term.

Take a Copyright Quiz!

In this quiz you will be asked a series of 14 True or False questions.

Copyright Quiz on Books & Periodicals

Washburn University Resources 

Citing Sources

Additional Resources

Copyright Clearance Center

Stanford University Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines

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

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