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Copyright Guide for DVC Faculty

This research guide is intended to let faculty know the basics about copyright and fair use, and how it applies to their course materials.

Copying Chapters- Fair Use Analysis

The Fair Use Doctrine (17 US Code sec. 107) allows instructors to use copyrighted printed/textual materials in their classes without obtaining permission, provided that certain conditions are met. 

  1. Instructors must evaluate their use of print materials using the "Four Factors" test.
  2. Copying by instructors must meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect.

FAQs- Face-to-Face Teaching

Question: May I photocopy a book chapter to share in class?

Answer: Yes, you may make one copy of a chapter for each student in the class when

  • the length of the chapter is no more than 10% of the entire book, AND
  • there is no time to request permission before you want to use the chapter in class, AND
  • it is copied only for this one course and only for this one semester, AND
  • the instructor includes a copyright notice on the copy.

Question: Is there a limit to the number of chapters I may copy each semester?

Answer: Yes, nine times, whether the copying is articles, chapters, charts, poems, or some other short creative work.

Question: If I want to use the same chapter next semester, do I have to get permission from the copyright owner?

Answer: Yes. This will usually require you to pay a copyright fee, which is based upon the number of pages copied and the number of copies made.

Question: Is there a way I may use the chapter without copying it?

Answer: Yes, place a copy of the book on Reserve in the library, which students may check out for three hours at a time.

Question: I want to use several chapters from a book of readings, but I do not want to make the students purchase the book? What are my options?


  • Option #1: If it is the first time you have used chapters from this book, you may photocopy up to 10% of the book and distribute a copy to each student in your class.
  • Option #2: If you have used chapters from this book for more than one semester, you cannot photocopy and distribute copies in subsequent semesters. This is copyright infringement. You may, however, put a copy of the book on Reserve so students can come to the library to access the readings.

FAQs- Online Teaching

Question: Can I link to a chapter of an ebook licensed by the library?

Answer: Yes, linking to a chapter of an ebook licensed by the library from the library's catalog record or from one of the library's subscription databases (e.g. Gale Virtual Reference Library) is permitted.

Question: Can I post a PDF of book chapter to my course page?

Answer: Maybe, if the excerpt is 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less. Linking to the content is preferable.

Licensed by DVC Library

A library of over 100,00 books in digital format. Books cover a wide array of subjects: history, social sciences, computers and technology and many more. Adobe Acrobat reader required.

 Gale Virtual Reference Library offers an online collection of premier reference eBooks including encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research.


California State University, Long Beach. "Copyright & Fair Use for Faculty: Common Scenarios."

Scales Image: © 2008 Michael Brewer & ALA Office of Information Technology Policy.