Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools




170 Chestnut Street,
Amherst MA 01002

I5: Copying Of Materials For Educational Purposes

Home 5 I5: Copying Of Materials For Educational Purposes

Category I: Instruction

Procedure I5: Copying Of Materials For Educational Purposes

The District will comply with U.S. copyright law in regards to the copying of materials for educational purposes. The District encourages the use of public domain materials and “fair use” of copyrighted materials as allowed for education, scholarship and research.

The Copyright Foundation states that “aside from teaching respect for the law, lessons in copyright can reinforce respect for intellectual property through proper attribution for sources and guide students toward responsible use of computer technology. In addition, when they learn about copyright, students learn sound civic values and ethnical decision-making, and gain knowledge that will help prepare them for success in a wide range of career paths.” (Copyright Foundation Educators Guide)


Copyright is the legal protection granted to the creator of an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible form. Both published and unpublished works can be protected by copyright.

According to the Copyright Act, works of authorship that qualify for copyright protection include: literature, poetry, and other literary works; musical compositions, lyrics, and sound recordings; newspaper and magazine articles; dance choreography; visual artworks (pictures, graphics and sculptures); films and television programs; architectural plans; computer programs; website content; databases, and other compilations and collections.

Public Domain

Public Domain material is intellectual property that is not owned or controlled by anyone and is freely available for use. All works published before 1923 and certain works published between 1923 and 1978 that lack a valid copyright notice or formal copyright renewal are considered in the public domain, as are works of the U.S. government.

Fair Use

For teachers, the most important concept in copyright law is probably fair use. This is a provision in the U.S. Copyright Act that allows for reproduction of copyrighted works without the copyright owner’s permission under certain specific circumstances, including when the work is being used for “teaching, scholarship, and research.”

As written by the U.S. Copyright office (, “One of the more important limitations [of copyright] is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law. Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.

The purpose and character of the use, including:

  • Whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work (creative works are granted more protection that fact-based works)
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole (the use of an entire work is less fair than use of part of the work)
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use. This includes:

  • reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson;
  • quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment;
  • quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations;
  • use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied;
  • summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report;
  • reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy.



Authorizing Document(s)

U.S. Copyright Law, Section 107



July 2014