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​​​​​Teachers, instructors and religious education instructors (catechists) are permitted to use copyrighted materials without asking for permission from the copyright holders under what is known as "fair use."  The following conditions must be met before educational use without permission is considered "fair." Special rules apply to use of materials outside the four walls of a classroom, for instance in online learning (see below).

​​A.  Single Copy

      For scholarly research or for use in teaching or preparing a class, teachers may make a single copy of the following:

  • A chapter from a book
  • An article from a magazine, newspaper, or Internet website

  • A short story, short essay, or short poem

  • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, magazine, newspaper, or Internet website

B.  Multiple Copies
     Multiple copies may be made for in-classroom use (one copy per student) only if your copying meets all four (4) of the following conditions: 

     (1) The content of the copies is brief.​

     The following guidelines for brevity apply: 

  • Complete poems of not more than 250 words or excerpts of not more than 250 words from longer poems may be copied.

  • A complete article, story, or essay of fewer than 2,500 words, or a maximum of either 1,000 words or 10% of any prose work with a minimum of 500 words may be copied.

  • One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture per book or per magazine may be copied.

  • "Special works" for children that combine pictures and have fewer than 2,500 words may not be copied in their entirety and only 10% of the words or not more than two (2) pages of special works that have more than 2,500 words may be copied.

     (2) Your decision to distribute copies in the classroom is spontaneous.

  • That is, you thought of distributing the materials so close to the time you have to use them in class that you could not seek and obtain permission for copying.

     (3) Your copying does not violate the rule against "cumulative effect."

     This rule provides that you:

  • May make copies only for your class

  • May not copy more than one short poem, article, story, or essay from the same author; more than two excerpts from the same author; or more than three poems, articles, stories, essays, or excerpts from the same anthology or magazine during one class term

  • May not engage in multiple copying more than nine times for one class in one term

    (4) Each copy identifies the creator and includes a notice of copyright.

    Notwithstanding the copying allowed above, you may not:

  • Make copies to create, replace, or substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective works

  • Make copies of works that are intended to be "consumable," such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets, answer sheets, and the like

  • Make copies of the same material from term to term

  • Make copies solely because the principal requests copies

  • Use copies as a substitute for buying books, magazines, reprints, etc.

  • Charge students for copies beyond the actual cost.​


C.  Screening Films, Videos, Documentaries, and Other Recorded Materials in Schools but Not for Parish Religious Education Programs

     Showing students a film, video, documentary, or television program, can be done without obtaining prior permission from the creators or a screening license is allowed only if all seven (7) of the following conditions apply: 

  1. You are a member of the faculty of the school (parish religious education and faith formation does not qualify).

  2. The class is part of the regular offerings of the school (parish religious education and faith formation does not qualify).

  3. The work was acquired lawfully (i.e., it is not a bootleg or a duplicate copy of a rented work).​

  4. You plan to display, perform, or transmit the work over a secure inside-the-school-only network, only to students in your own class.

  5. You do not transmit the work via your own website or disseminate it through email or any other electronic means.

  6. The work is directly related to the content of the class (i.e., it is not for entertainment or your own research).

  7. You make sure that the work's copyright notice is shown, or you post a notice saying that the work may be copyright protected.

 If the seven conditions set forth above do not apply, you need to obtain a license for use.​  The University of Texas Libraries website has a useful guide on how to obtain copyright permissions.​

NOTE:  Before sharing any media with students, teachers must familiarize themselves with the Educator's Guidelines for Use of All Media. Teachers shall inform parents/guardians if media are going to be used in the classroom and allow them to opt out (see Parent/Guardian Permission for Child to View Media).

​D. Using Copyrighted Material on the Internet, in Online Presentations or Distance Learning

The "fair use" rules that apply to legally permitted use of copyrighted materials do not provide a blanket automatic permission for use in the online or internet setting.  Generally speaking, unpermitted "fair use" of copyrighted materials for educational purposes applies only inside the four walls of a classroom.  Once teaching or training moves online, the following additional rules apply as provided by the TEACH Act, 17 U.S.C. § 110(2)(A)-(D):

  • You are teaching at an accredited nonprofit educational institution

  • You have lawfully made or acquired the content (no bootleg or pirated copies)

  • You are transmitting the following content: (a) a performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work (i.e., not a play or a musical or an opera), or (b) reasonable and limited portions of any other work, or (c) a work in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session

  • The content was not produced or marketed primarily for online classroom learning (you need permission and probably have to purchase a license for course materials developed for online use)

  • You are the instructor (or someone acting at the instructor's direction or supervision) and the material is used as an integral part of a class and as a regular part of the course

  • The performance or display is directly related to and of "material assistance" to the teaching content

  • The transmission is only distributed to, and to the extent technologically feasible, is only received by, students enrolled in the course

  • The educational institution has copyright policies in place, specifically: informational materials provided to faculty, students, and relevant staff members that accurately describe and promote compliance with U.S. Copyright Law, and notices to students that materials used in connection with the course may be subject to copyright protection (if you make this Chapter 10 in the Administrative Handbook  available, you have complied with this requirement)

  • Technological measures are in place that reasonably prevent retention of the work by the students for longer than the class session and prevent dissemination of the work to others (e.g., ​disable recording of the live session)

  • You prevent conduct that could reasonably be expected to interfere with technological measures used by copyright owners to prevent retention or unauthorized dissemination  

     NOTE: These rules also apply to any instructional materials such as PowerPoint presentations used in web-based settings such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Connect and the like.​