Copying Textbooks

Although the opening paragraph of Section 107 of Chapter One of the U.S. Copyright Law offers “multiple copies for classroom use” as one of the examples of a possible fair use, this does NOT mean that such use constitutes “fair use” PER SE; on the contrary, it still requires application of the four statutory criteria to determine whether, in a particular instance, such copying and distribution constitutes “fair use” because both Congress and the Supreme Court have repeatedly made clear that not every educational use IS a “fair use” under the law.

In applying the four statutory “fair use” criteria, the first factor (i.e., nonprofit educational use) weighs in favor of a fair use determination. Application of the other three factors weighs against textbook copying being considered “fair use.” This is because reproducing copies of a commercially-marketed work, in its entirety clearly has an adverse effect on the market for, and value of, that work, because such copying clearly substitutes for the school system’s routine purchase of a commercially-produced edition of the work for each student. Sections 110 (1) & (2), provide copyright exemptions for certain educational performances or displays of copyrighted works, but no protection for textbook copying. The same is true with Section 108, which provides copyright exemptions for certain reproductions of copyrighted works by libraries, including school libraries.

Guidelines for Classroom Copying

The purpose of these guidelines is to state the minimum standards for educational fair use under Section 107 of HR 2223.   These guidelines were endorsed by Congress in 1976 as part of its passage of the major copyright reform legislation that included codification of “fair use” in Section 107.  Nothing in the “Classroom Guidelines,” or in any other discussion by the Copyright Office, would justify textbook copying.

Classroom Copyrights (PDF)

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