Instructions for copyright permissions

New Coursepack Procedures and Guide to Copyright Permissions

If all material in your coursepack is covered under fair use or public domain (i.e. does NOT need any permissions or copyright clearance), then all you need to do is fill out a form 1A and return to Shirley Cronin. If permission for one or more items is needed, then a Form 1B must be filled out and submitted.  The print shop will not print your coursepack until we tell them we have a signed 1A or 1B on file in the bookstore. For copies of either form please email <plebar>

Determining whether copyright permission is needed for coursepack materials:

  1. Find out whether the work is in the public domain (see below).  If it is, no need to get permission.
  2. If not in the public domain, check to see if the amount and type of materials you are planning to copy falls under “fair use” guidelines (see below).  If so, no permission is required.
  3. If still uncertain, contact Helen McCullough at or 332-3364.

New Coursepack Procedures:

  1. If you feel your intended copy does not fall under fair use guidelines, you must obtain permission to use it.  Fill out a separate 1B form for each work which needs permission.  Although it is not necessary, you may check on the price and/or time frame for your permission by visiting  The database is not comprehensive, but there is a good chance your work will be listed there.
  2. Attach all your 1B forms to your 1A form (required even if no 1Bs are needed) and return to the bookstore.  The bookstore will take care of getting permissions from the Copyright Clearance Center.
  3. Turn your whole coursepack in to the print shop as soon as possible.  Printing will proceed as soon as permission clearance arrives, if needed.  If no permission is needed, printing will proceed once 1A form is received.  Permissions may take anywhere form 1 day to 6-8 weeks to arrive; to be safe, turn your 1A and 1B forms in by July 1.  If turning your coursepack in around the end of August, expect a 1-2 week delay due to backlog.
  4. If there are any questions or comments about these new procedures, contact Shirley Cronin at or 332-5369.

All of the following applies to works created and or published in the United States.

A work is currently in the public domain if:

  • It was published before 1923
  • It was published with copyright between 1923 and 1963, and its copyright was not renewed (copyright expires 28 years after publication)
  • It was published before 1/1/78 without a copyright
  • It is a United States government publication (Check for copyright notice, as some works may be prepared by authors on contract to the government)
  • It consists of information that is common property and contains no original authorship (e.g. standard calendars, tables from common sources)

A work will be in the public domain after 12/31/02 if:

  • It was created before 1/1/78, never published, and its author died b before 1/1/33 (if died after 1/1/33, will expire 70 years from death date)

A work is NOT in the public domain (for at least 15 more years) if:

  • It was created between 1964 and 1977 with copyright
  • It was created before 1/1/78 and published between 1/1/78 and 12/31/02
  • It was created after 1/1/78
  • It was published with copyright between 1923 and 1963 and its copyright was renewed after its initial 28-year term

For more detailed information see:

“When Works Pass Into the Public Domain” (http://www.unc.ed/~unclng/public-d.html)

“How To Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work”


“Copyright Basics” (

Fair Use Guidelines:

Multiple copies of works not in the public domain can be made for classroom use according to these restrictions:

  • Copyright information/source citation must be included with each copy
  • Permission must be obtained if materials will be used for the same class for more than one semester
  • Copies of consumable works such as workbooks and standardized test booklets should not be made
  • Length should be limited to single chapters, single articles from a journal issue, several charts, graphs or illustrations, or other similarly small parts of a work

To be safe, you can follow these length guidelines (from the “safe harbor” guidelines set up by publishers and academic representatives, NOT part of the codified law):

  • No more than 250 words or 2 pages of poetry (complete poem or excerpt)
  • A complete prose work less than 2500 words, or an excerpt about 1000 words or 10% of the whole (whichever is less, but not less than 500 words)
  • No more than one short poem, article, story or essay, or two excerpts from the same author
  • No more than three works from the same collective work or periodical

In general:

  • Works that are published, or are factual or nonfiction are more likely to be seen as falling under “fair use” than fiction or other highly creative work, unpublished work and consumable material
  • The quantity of material used should be small relative to the entire work, and the portion used should not be central to, or “the heart” of the entire work
  • The purpose of copying should be teaching, research, scholarship, criticism, parody, otherwise transformative
  • Copies should be made from a lawfully acquired copy.  Attempts should be made to get permission when licensing is reasonably affordable/available.  No significant effect on the market for the work should be anticipated.

For more detailed information, see:

“Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians”


“Fair Use: Overview and Meaning For Higher Education”


“Copyright Law of the United States of America”


Allegheny College’s policy on fair use of copyrighted works for research and education: The college expects its employees to make every good faith effort to use materials in compliance with federal regulations.  In return for compliance with this policy, the College will pay for employees’ defense if someone alleges they have violated copyright.