copyright and fair use guidelines


Much of the material, print and otherwise, that is used in the classroom is protected by the copyright laws of the United States or other country of origin in order to assure authors and other creators that they will be fairly compensated for their original contributions to art, literature, science, and other academic fields.

In addition to these protections, however, educators also have rights to make use of print, video and musical material under the doctrines of public domain and fair use. Colby-Sawyer College encourages all faculty and staff to become aware of the procedures for disseminating educational materials in keeping with appropriate legal doctrines and practices. For information, please see:

This link may help you determine whether the library is legally permitted to copy your materials: Copyright spinner

Public Domain

First, there is material that is no longer, or has never been, protected by copyright. Within the United States, works published prior to 1923 are not protected by copyright. Materials published through 1977 without a copyright notice are not protected.

Several other categories of materials may have outlived their original copyright protections, and can be considered available for copying without restriction – for further information, you may investigate,,, or

Fair Use

Title 17 of the 1976 Copyright Act grants “fair use” of copyright-protected materials under several sets of circumstances. Of highest priority for the Colby-Sawyer community is “educational fair use by teachers, scholars and students who copy for teaching, scholarship or learning.” (Regents Guide, Univ. of Georgia)

This right to use protected materials includes the right to make “multiple copies for classroom use.” There are four factors which govern fair use in educational settings:

  1. The purpose of the use: commercial vs. non-profit educational
  2. The nature of the work: is the work creative, derivative, or a compilation
  3. The amount to be used in relation to the work as a whole: the larger the proportion of the work copied, the higher the likelihood permission will be required.
  4. The effect of the use on the market or potential market for the work: are you infringing on the copyright holder's reasonable right to market his/her work?

*All copying, whether distributed in the classroom or held on reserve or posted on Blackboard, should conform to these four factors. Any use which presses the reasonable limits of these guidelines should be referred for permission. *

Course packets

Case law has demonstrated that course packets that are made available to students for sale as though they were “textbooks” are an infringement of copyright and require permissions to be obtained either through Copyright Clearance Center, or through Follett if our bookstore is going to do the legwork. Faculty who are interested in creating course packets should discuss payment for permissions with their department chairs.

Copyright Clearance Center

This agency will obtain permissions for anyone wishing to check on the appropriateness of their request to copy. Be aware that CCC will charge us whatever fee the publishers request, whether the use falls within fair use parameters or not.

Current copyright legislation does not prohibit charging for fair use, it merely protects those whose use meets “fair use” criteria. CCC may be contacted via

  • EMG Krajewski 08/06