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Library Homepage: Copyright

The WCTC Library serves the students, faculty, staff, and residents of the Waukesha County Technical College district.


The WCTC Library cannot give legal advice on what is permitted or prohibited in terms of photocopying or providing resources to your class. Below are numerous resources about copyright that can help you determine if your use falls within fair use guidelines.

If you have additional questions, please contact Amy Manion, Director of Library Services. 

Seal of the United States Copyright Office 1870 The U.S. Copyright Office provides information on Fair Use, the legal doctrine that permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. The four factors considered are: 1) purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 2) nature of the copyrighted work; 3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4) effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
copyright United States Copyright Office The circular Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians from the U.S. Copyright Office includes the most important legislative provisions and other documents dealing with reproduction by librarians and educators. See especially "Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with respect to books and periodicals" on pp. 67.
By answering a series of questions, the Fair Use Evaluator tool from the Copyright Advisory Network can help you determine the "fairness" of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code.
Copyright Clearance Center Learn more about copyright from the Copyright Clearance Center, a U.S. company that provides collective copyright licensing services for corporate and academic users of copyrighted materials. This website will help you learn the basics about copyright information, and provides a resource library, as well as courses and programs on copyright.
Using Course Management Systems: Guidelines and Best Practices for Copyright Compliance Using Course Management Systems: Guidelines and Best Practices for Copyright Compliance. The principles in this white paper summarize key guidelines and encapsulate examples of best practices followed by many academic institutions.

Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia is a report that was published by a Congressional subcommittee in 1996. The guidelines say instructors should limit the use of the educational multimedia projects containing copyrighted material to a period of two years after the first instructional use. Portions of copyrighted works used should be limited:

  • Motion media (e.g., video): Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less.
  • Text material: Up to 10% or 1,000 words, whichever is less.
  • Music, lyrics, music video: Up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds.
  • Illustrations, photographs: No more than 5 images from an artist or photographer, or no more than 10% or 15 works from a published collective work.
  • Numerical data sets (e.g. databases): Up to 10% or 2,500 fields, whichever is less.