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Copyright & Fair Use For Faculty

Scenarios That Might Require Permission

  • Scans/photocopies of printed works

  • Copies or segments of audio/visual material

How can I tell?

How to share with your class

  • Request it with Course Reserves - library staff will assess fair use, and whenever possible, license and distribute the material to your students through Canvas

What can’t I do with this material

  • You can not post copies of this material in Canvas Files until you have determined that your use is fair - You may be held liable for violating someone's copyright!

What other options do I have?

  • Order as a textbook with Barnes and Noble through Course Reserves

  • Order a course packet from East Side Copy

Fair Use in Practice


Small amounts of a book may be copied for educational purposes.  Only copy the part of the book that is essential for your students.  The less of a work used, the more likely it will be construed as fair use. However, using small sections of a text that would substantively be construed as “the heart of the work”, even in small amounts, may undermine the fair use argument (see Harper & Row vs. The Nation for a full explanation of the problem with using a 300-400 word passage). Additionally, the availability of a digital license for use of the material (through an ebook purchase for example) may undermine the use of small percentages in separately scanned files. Using the Library's reserve system to investigate whether a digital license exists is always the best option.  


Following the Poetry Foundation’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use Poetry, instructors may use short poems with proper attribution and use portions of long poems where relevant to teaching.  Faculty may not reproduce compilations or commercially available books.


A photocopy or PDF of a single article from a single volume of a journal will likely fall within fair use. 

AudioVisual material

Within the New School online learning environment (either e-reserves or canvas), faculty may post up to 30 seconds of digitized audio/video (or 10%, whichever is less) without seeking permission as long as that material is not able to be downloaded.  Wherever possible, faculty should work with the library to obtain copyright clearance through the Course Reserves system, particularly if clips are a regular, planned part of the course.  If the file is able to be downloaded, permission is always required.

Clip reels

(Identified as composited media with small amounts from selected programs) may be created by faculty and students for the purpose of criticism and illustration for on-campus courses (see Section 1201 of the DMCA for guidelines), but the same fair use exemption does not exist for online courses without an institutionally purchased copy of the video.


When faculty wish to use images within the online environment or in their teaching, the New School follows recommendations outlined by the Visual Resource Association Of America (VRA).  According to the VRA, the use of scanned images within assignments or teaching are permissible fair uses, provided access is restricted to those enrolled in the course. The CAA Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts is another helpful resource.


Within the New School online learning environment, faculty may upload small sections of digitized scores to illustrate a relevant concept, but not performable units or entire works.