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Copyright & the Classroom

Book Chapter

A textbook hasn't arrived for the first week of the semester. The professor wishes to place a copy of the first chapter in Canvas for her students to read.

+ Purpose: The professor would be copying the chapter for educational use.

+ Nature: The copy of the chapter is from a published book that is probably more factual than creative.

+ Portion: A single chapter is (likely) a small portion of the book.

+ Effect: There is no market harm because the students have paid for the books. Furthermore, only they would have access to this copy.

PermissibleSince all four factors weigh in favor of Fair Use, this is a strong case for permissible use.


A professor would like to copy and post 10 pages from a diary that the library owns on his Canvas course page.

+ Purpose: The professor would copy the 10 pages for educational purposes.

Nature: The diary is creative and likely unpublished.

+ Portion: The professor would copy and post a small part of the diary.

+ Effect: The diary is not for sale and is not likely to be made available for sale.

Permissible: The creative nature of the diary and the fact that it is not published weighs against Fair Use, but the other factors weigh heavily for Fair Use. This is a good case for permissible use. If the professor, library, or CU is the Copyright owner, such use is almost certainly permissible and a Fair Use analysis is unnecessary.

Out-of-Print Book

A professor has an out-of-print book that she would like her online students to read. She plans to copy the book and make it available to her students on Canvas.

+ Purpose: Copying the out-of-print book for educational use.

+ Nature: The book was published and more factual than creative.

- Portion: Copying the entire book weighs heavily against Fair Use. 

+ Effect: Since the book is out-of-print, there is likely no market loss from sales of the book to the Copyright owner.

Not Permissible: Factors 1, 2, and 4 weigh in favor of Fair Use, but Portion weighs heavily against Fair Use. Just because a book is out of print does not mean it is no longer under Copyright protection.  In certain instances, it might be permissible to copy an entire book, but other options should be pursued first.

Permissible Alternative: The professor could seek permission from the Copyright owner to provide a digitized copy of the book in Canvas or could select some (but not all) of the book to copy, thus reducing the portion used. 

Created Course Pack

An instructor plans to copy multiple journal articles and book chapters to create a course pack to be sold to students by the campus print shop.

+ Purpose: The copy of multiple journal articles and book chapters is for educational use.

+ Nature: The articles and books are published and more factual than creative.

+ Portion: The articles and chapters are probably not a substantial part of the journals or books from which they came.

Effect: Selling the copied content deprives the copyright holders of the money they might have made from sales

Not Permissible: While the first three factor weigh in favor of Fair Use, Effect weighs heavily against it. It is not permissible even if there is no profit made.

Permissible Alternative: If the bookstore, instructor, or academic school/department were to license the selections by paying fees to the copyright holders, the course pack could be printed and sold by the bookstore.

Netflix Video

A teacher wants to show her students in class 10 minutes from a movie using her Netflix account. Afterwards she plans to help the students analyze the clip from a Christian perspective.

Not Permissible: No Fair Use assessment is necessary. The Netflix license agreement the teacher agreed to allows her only to view its movies in a private, home setting. Showing even 10 minutes of the movie to her students violates the license. Licenses normally supersede copyright. 

Permissible Alternative: Seek a physical or streaming copy from the library in order to show the clip.