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Copyright: All You Need to Know: Compliance Guidelines for Faculty

Copyright and Permissions 2017-18

We encourage our faculty to follow copyright law and obtain legal permission when it is necessary. Please consult and follow the guidelines below.

Copyright law is tricky. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Courtnay Zeitler.

To submit journal articles and book excerpts for copyright permission, please fill out this form.

Copying for Classroom Use

Copying of copyrighted materials for student learning and research use without written permission may occur in the following instances:

Single copying for teachers

Single copies may be made of any of the following by or for teachers at their individual request for scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  • One chapter from a book;
  • An article from a periodical, journal, or newspaper;
  • A 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.

Multiple copies for student learning use

Multiple copies (not to exceed more than one copy per student in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for student learning use or discussion; provided that the following three criteria are met:

  • The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity (as defined below).
  • The copying meets the cumulative effect test (as defined below).
  • Each copy includes a notice of copyright. An example is "this material may be protected by Copyright law (title 17, US Code)."


Brevity: Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, (usually varies 3-8 pages depending on size of page and type) or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10 percent of the work, whichever is greater.

Spontaneity: The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and the inspiration and decision to use the work.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: Copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.

Permission from copyright holders is often needed when creating course materials, research papers, and web sites. The Library obtains permission for works when it is used a way that infringes on the exclusive rights granted to a copyright holder (i.e. outside the boundaries of fair use).

At the University of the South, the Circulation Department in the Library serves as our Copyright Clearance Office.  We use a variety of methods to obtain copyright permission and require ample time to process these requests. 

It’s important to know a few basics about copyright, especially as you distribute multiple copies of someone else’s work to your students. The Fair Use Doctrine helps us evaluate the limits to which we can use a copyrighted work, and when we have to pay for permission to use it.

Jessie Ball duPont Library, University of the South
178 Georgia Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383