Library Copyright Policy

Copyright: What you Need to Know – try out our online version of the popular STEP class and get some great information on when you need to seek copyright permission for material you use in class.

Copyright Policy

The following SCC Library Copyright Policy is in compliance with St. Charles Community College's Copyright Policy. Below is information that will assist students, faculty and staff to adhere to the copyright guidelines in the U.S. copyright law.

If you are unsure whether a work is protected by copyright, refer to:

For a more in-depth understanding of copyright, complete the Crash Course in Copyright from the University of Texas or refer to blog.

Reference librarians will assist you in seeking copyright permission. Use this sample letter as a form to provide information about the material for which you are requesting copyright permission.

Document Delivery and Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan activities are subject to copyright restrictions due to the fact that rights to publications are not purchased or transferred to the requestor. The House and Senate subcommittees made an interpretation of these restrictions in 1976 through an interpretation of 17 U.S.C. Section 108 (g)(2). The commission considers the guidelines which follow to be a workable and fair interpretation of the intent of the law.

A few guidelines include:

  1. During a calendar year, a library may borrow five articles from a periodical title newer than five years old. Exceptions to this "Rule of Five" include that the title is on order; the issue is missing; the item is at the bindery; or the issue was damaged or not available.
  2. All interlibrary loan requests must bear a symbol of compliance.
  3. The requesting library must keep borrowing records for three calendar years.

The alternatives include borrowing the entire volume or issue, using a document delivery or full-text service, which includes copyright fees, obtaining permission from the copyright holder directly, or joining a copyright clearinghouse. Libraries that choose not to subscribe to such a service may simply keep track of their borrowing and lending habits and stop borrowing when their need necessitates purchasing the title directly. Most document delivery services factor the cost of copyright permissions into their fee. (Source: Handbook of Federal Librarianship)


An instructor may copy and use 10% or up to 30 seconds (whichever is less) of music without copyright permission.

Printed Material

An instructor can request that a photocopy of an item be placed on reserve without copyright permission.

Educators have a fair use right to make:

Single copy – created from any of the following by or for an educator at his or her individual request for scholarly research, or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  • a chapter from a book.
  • an article from a periodical or newspaper.
  • a short story, short essay or short poem.
  • a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper.

Multiple copies – for classroom use or discussion (not to exceed, in any event, more than one copy per student in a course) provided that:

  1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below.
  2. The copying meets the cumulative effect test as defined below.
  3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright.


  • Poetry – a complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages.
  • Prose – either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, not greater than 10 percent of the work, whichever is less.
  • Illustration – one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.


In order to meet the fair use test of spontaneity, the inspiration and decision of the individual to use the work and the time of its use (for maximum teaching effectiveness) are so close together, that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

Cumulative effect

  1. Material may be copied for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
  2. One short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author.
  3. Three short poems, articles, stories or excerpts from the same collective work or periodical volume may be copied during one class term.
  4. Multiple copying is limited to nine times for one course during one class term.

Educators may not:

  1. Copy to avoid purchase of materials.
  2. Copy from consumable materials (workbooks, activity books, exercises, standardized tests, answer sheets, etc.).
  3. Make illegal copies on direction from higher authority.
  4. Use materials copied by another educator without securing written permission.
  5. Alter a copyrighted image (cartoon, graph, chart, photograph, diagram, etc.) by modifying the original to create a derivative work.
  6. Copy the same item for more than one course (copies may be made for each section of the course).
  7. Charge students more than the actual cost of the authorized copies.


Permission is probably not needed if the use of the material is for only one semester, as this is considered "inspirational" use. However, if the article or book chapter will be used again, or if you are using a significant amount of one work (for example, more than one chapter of a book), copyright permission must be obtained. Also remember that "out of print" does not automatically give permission to photocopy. The Learning Resource Center will coordinate solicitations and receipt of copyright permissions. Faculty members should contact library liaisons for assistance in requesting copyright permission.


An instructor may use a videotape at any time if the following is true:

  1. It is a legal copy, professionally made.
  2. It supports the curriculum being taught.
  3. It is documented (in the syllabus or lesson plan).
  4. It is used in a face-to-face educational situation.

An instructor may not copy a video from VHS to DVD format without copyright permission.

The performance of a musical or play can be videotaped for instructor evaluation only without copyright permission; no copy can be placed in the library's collection. A video reproduction that does not support curriculum is not covered under fair use.

Off-air taping is defined as: television programs provided without charge by local television stations for reception by the general public (e.g., ABC, NBC, CBS). An off-air taping may be captured if:

  1. It is used to support the curriculum being taught, only at the instructor's request (fair use).
  2. It is used within the first consecutive 10 class days following taping and used no more than two times (fair use).

The instructor may retain (but may not show to students) an off-air tape for a period not to exceed 45 consecutive calendar days following the date of recording.

Educators may continue to use only those off-air recordings from cable and satellite programs that have been designated and cleared for educational use, and use programs with all class sections within the course for which the recording was requested.

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