Guidelines for Use of Copyrighted Works at Middlesex

Below are some illustrations of typical educational uses of copyrighted works at the College which are unlikely to require the copyright owner’s permission if this policy and these guidelines are followed as use will likely fall into one of the exemptions listed above. Even if a determination is made that an exception applies and permission of the copyright owner is not required for use of copyrighted material, Covered Individuals still have limitations on use as outlined in this Policy and below. Additionally, Covered Individuals should clearly and prominently acknowledge the copyright owner on, or next to, the copyrighted work along with the following notice: “This material is protected by Title 17 of the U.S. Code and thus, copying of the material is prohibited by federal copyright law.” Please also refer to the appendices of this policy for additional guidance and copyright resources, including, but not limited to other examples where educational uses may be permissible without permission from the copyright owner. These resources may be particularly helpful where Covered Users seek to use copyrighted works in newer forms of technology (e.g. podcasting, PowerPoint). Please note however that this policy and federal copyright law applies to all uses of copyrighted materials, irrespective of technology. Non-digital content that is protected by copyright is also protected in digital form.

Single Copy for Classroom Use

A single copy may be made by, or for, a faculty member or instructor, for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class, of all or part of the following:  a chapter from a book, an article from a periodical or newspaper; a short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work or a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

Multiple Copies for Classroom Use, including Course Packets

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per student per course) may be made by, or for, the faculty member or instructor giving the course for classroom use or discussion, provided that the copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity and cumulative effect and each copy includes a notice of copyright.  Students may not be charged except to recover copying costs. 

Works which meet the brevity test are as follows:

  • Poetry – a complete poem (or an excerpt from a poem) if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages.
  • Prose – a complete article, story or essay of less than 2500 words or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work whichever is less but a minimum of 500 words.
  • Illustration:  one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue

A work passes the spontaneity test if the copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual instructor, and the inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission to copy.

To meet the cumulative effect test, the copying of the material must be for only one course: and not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term. Cumulative effect prohibits more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during a class term.

Notwithstanding the above, the following copying is prohibited without authorization from the copyright owner:

  • Copying for the purpose of creating, replacing, or substituting for anthologies, compilations or collective works. 
  • Copying of works intended to be “consumable” in the course of study or teaching, such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets.
  • Copying as a substitute for the purchase or books, publishers’ reprints or periodicals.
  • Repeated copying of the same item by the same teacher from term to term.

Faculty and staff should follow the guidelines above for copying course packets or research materials.  Please note that permission of the copyright owner must be obtained for materials that will be used in more than one semester by the same professor for the same class. Copyright notices should include appropriate citations and attributions to the source

Library Course Reserves

A faculty or staff member may want to have materials on reserve at the library as part of the course materials, including classroom assignments.  Library course reserves, whether physical or electronic, are intended to provide supplemental material to courses of instruction at the College.  As such, materials placed on reserve (for example disks, audio-visual materials, journal articles and/or photocopies, electronic resources, and non-book items) are not intended to comprise the core of a course’s instructional material, but rather to augment it.  The library will conduct a fair use analysis described in this policy and limit reserves to lawfully acquired copies of single articles or chapter, or other small portions of a work or originals of an entire work.  Copies must include the notices and acknowledgments listed above and access will be limited to students enrolled in the class and will terminate at the end of the class. When the material requested for reserve exceeds what might be permitted under fair use, permission from the copyright holder must be obtained. Please note that placing a lawfully obtained textbook on reserve is permissible

Network access, including World Wide Web access, to the College-created digitized study collections that include copyrighted material, is restricted to the College’s campus network and those authorized to use the network.  Such digitized collections are accessible temporarily and for instructional purposes only by the students and faculty for whom the material is intended.  These collections should be removed at the end of the academic term in which they were being used.  Prominent notice must be given that such study materials may not be downloaded, retained, printed, shared, or modified, except as needed temporarily for specific academic assignments.

The use of a course management system (i.e. BlackBoard, Moodle, Angel) offers the capability to provide controlled access to electronic forms of class material.  The College’s libraries provide access to a number of databases by subscription agreement with vendors.  In many cases the license agreements with the vendors or publishers of these materials specifically address whether or not content may be downloaded and reposted to an electronic reserves system.  Since the answer to this question is uneven and there are many licenses to consider, the College’s libraries will link to any database or eJournal content, rather than downloading the document and uploading it for online access (i.e. BlackBoard, Moodle, Angel).

Digitizing and Using Copyrighted Works in Multimedia Materials

Covered Individuals may seek to incorporate copyrighted works into multimedia materials and display and perform a multimedia work in connection with, or the creation of, class assignments, curriculum materials, remote instruction, examinations, student portfolios, or professional symposia. Covered Individuals may incorporate copyrighted works into a multimedia work if the amount of material from the copyrighted work is a very small amount, if copies of the multimedia work are limited to those required to achieve the educational purpose, and if the multimedia work is used for the purpose for no longer than two years (in which case permission from the copyright owner is required).  The copyright notices and acknowledgments listed above must also be included.

Digitizing and Using Images for Educational Purposes

Covered Individuals may seek to use images during their class, for example art images for an art history class. Images should only be used with permission from the owner of the copyright in the image. Many images are readily available online or for sale or license at a fair price. If the image is not readily available online or for sale or license at a fair price, Covered Individuals should limit access to all digitized images (except small low resolution “thumbnails”) to students enrolled in the class and administrative staff as needed and should terminate access to the images at the end of the class term. Periodically review digital availability.  If a previously unavailable image becomes available online or for sale or license at a fair price, it should be acquired before using again.

Distance Learning

A faculty or staff member may display and perform copyrighted works in live interactive distance learning classes, course management systems or in delayed transmission of faculty instruction as follows: the faculty or staff member or the College must own a legal copy of the source (e.g. book purchased in bookstore).  Before purchasing materials for Distance Learning Courses, determine whether the applicable licenses provide authority for use of display and performance of the materials without restrictions.  If so, a small portion of the Copyrighted materials may be used for a limited time, and with limited access along with the notices and acknowledgments listed above. 


A faculty or staff member may copy music for academic purposes, other than performances, limited as follows:  1) excerpts of sheet music, such as performable units (movements, sections, arias) may be copied only if out of print; 2) student performances may be recorded only for teacher or institutional evaluation or student’s portfolio, and 3) sound records may be copied once for classroom or reserve room use.  Please note that sheet music may be copied in its entirety only for an emergency when purchased copies are not available for an imminent performance provided that purchased replacement copies are substituted in due course. Additionally, the copyright notices and acknowledgments outlined above must be included.  There are also sources of free music such as the Choral Public Domain Library.

Public Performance

Copyright law governs how copyrighted materials used for a public performance, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a video carries with it the right to show the video outside the home. In some instances no license is required to view a video, such as inside the home by family or social acquaintances and in certain narrowly defined face-to-face teaching activities. Taverns, restaurants, private clubs, prisons, lodges, factories, summer camps, public libraries, day-care facilities, parks and recreation departments, churches and non classroom use at schools and universities are all examples of situations where a public performance license must be obtained. This legal requirement applies regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, whether the institution or organization is commercial or non-profit, or whether a federal or state agency is involved.

Copyright law allows faculty members and instructors to share audio-visual work (e.g. video, VHS tape, laserdisc, DVD movie, 35 mm slide, filmstrip, or 16 mm movie), works with students in face-to-face teaching situations only. Even programs purchased or rented with the caveat "home use only," may be used in face-to-face teaching activities. Such programs may not be used outside of the classroom, for example viewing at a student club meeting, without licensing.  Audio-visual works may not be transmitted to other colleges or locations without permission of the copyright holder. Accordingly, unless permission is received, distance education is an unlikely venue for the performance of audio-visual works.

Transmission of an audio-visual work may be permissible over closed circuit television to classrooms located within the same building. Besides use in classrooms, students, faculty or staff at workstations or in small group rooms such as those available in the library may view audio-visual works that are owned by the College. In similar situations, the performance of non-dramatic literary or musical works is permitted, if the performance or display is a regular part of systematic instructional activities, if it is directly related to teaching content of transmission, if the setting is normally devoted to instructional activities, or if it is sited to accommodate persons with disabilities.

Assuming the purpose is curricular and the setting is face-to-face, two additional criteria apply: (1) the performance of the audiovisual work must meet the instructional objective; and (2) the audio-visual work must be a "lawfully made" copy. Any other type of performance or display of an audio-visual work is potentially a copyright infringement.

Recording College Events

Permission to record presentations by registered students, faculty, and staff is assumed if the recording is to be used for archival or classroom use only. Written permission of the presenter or sponsor is required for presentations made by any other individual or group regardless of the recording's purpose. One archival copy of non-classroom events using copyrighted materials may be produced if the presenter has obtained clearance from the copyright holder. Non-archival copies of presentations may only be produced if written permission allowing the duplication of the material has been obtained in advance from all

Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes

A broadcast program (including cable program) may be recorded off-air and retained for 45 calendar days after date of recording.  Off-air recordings may be used once by individual faculty member or instructors in the course of relevant teaching activities and repeated once only when instructional reinforcement is necessary in classrooms and similar places devoted to instruction during the first 10 school days in the 45-day retention period.  Off-air recordings may be made only at the request of and use by individual faculty and instructors and may not be regularly recorded in anticipation of requests.  No broadcast program may be recorded off-air more than once at the request of the same teacher, regardless of the number of times the program may be broadcast.  A limited number of copies may be reproduced from each off-air recording to meet the legitimate needs of faculty and instructors under this policy.  Each additional copy shall be subject to all provisions governing the original recording. 


After the first ten consecutive school days, off-air recordings may be used up to the end of the 45-day retention period only for teacher evaluation purposes (i.e. to determine whether to including the broadcast program in the teaching curriculum and may not be used in the recording institution for student exhibition or any other non-evaluation purpose without authorization.  After 45 days, a license for retention must be obtained or the recording must be erased or destroyed. Recordings need not be used in their entirety but may not be altered from their original content or physically or electronically combined or merged to constitute teaching anthologies or compilations. Recordings must contain the copyright notice on the broadcast program as recorded.

Last Modified: 3/26/24