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Fair Use Guidelines for the Classroom

Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (Circular 21)

In an effort to clarify the fair use of making copies for classroom use, the U.S. Copyright Office has published guidelines for educators in order to offer minimum (not maximum) “standards of educational fair use under Section 107.” Please note that uses exceeding these guidelines could still be considered a fair use. These guidelines are a floor for fair use, not a ceiling. Nonetheless, these floor thresholds offer peace of mind for educators to utilize copyrighted materials in their classroom without fear of infringement – as Congress intended.

It should also be noted that these guidelines were created in cooperation with both rights holders and rights users. Groups such as the Association of American Publishers and the Music Publishers’ Association met with national educator associations to come to an agreement on reasonable guidelines of fair use in the classroom. These guidelines include specific word limits (e.g. poems less than 250 words, or articles less than 2,500 words), allowances for classroom spontaneity in copying, emergency copying of music, or maintaining instructional archives of student performances. Please click here to access the Circular 21 Guidelines.