Copyright Policy

Frequently Asked Questions

It is the policy of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to comply with the United States copyright law. Under certain conditions specified in the law, the photocopy or reproduction of material is allowable if it passes the "fair use" test. The "fair use" test is described below. If a work does not meet the test of "fair use" then permission must be obtained before copying. UNMC's Printing and Mail Services department will assist departments in obtaining permission to reproduce copyrighted documents.

Printing and Mail Services reserves the right to refuse to accept a requisition if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of the United States copyright law (Title 17, United States Code).

Fair Use

These guidelines explain "fair use" in more detail. The doctrine of "Fair Use" permits the use of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission in limited situations. Section 107 of the Copyright Act established four basic factors to be examined in determining whether a use constitutes a "fair use" under the copyright law. These four basic factors are:

No one factor is determinative of a person's right to use a copyrighted work without permission. Educational use alone is not sufficient to make the use in question a fair one.

If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy for purposes in excess of "fair use", that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

Business Use

When making copies for business use, the "Fair Use" guidelines must be adhered to.

Academic Use

In the 1976 Copyright Act, Congress endorsed certain guidelines relating to classroom copying for educational use. These guidelines are generally considered to establish minimum permissible conduct under the Fair Use Doctrine for authorized copying. The guidelines for making multiple copies without permission for use in an academic setting are as follows:

  1. Single copying for teachers

    A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at the individual request for scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

    • 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
    • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper
  2. Multiple copies for classroom use

The guidelines for making multiple copies without permission for use in an academic setting contain the following prohibitions:

  1. Unauthorized copying may not be used to create, replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.
  2. Unauthorized copies may not be made of "consumable" works (workbooks, standardized tests, etc)
  3. Unauthorized copying may not substitute for the purchase of books, publisher's reprints or periodicals.
  4. Unauthorized copying may not be directed by a higher authority, such as a dean or head of a department.
  5. The same teacher cannot copy the same item without permission from term to term.
  6. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.

The guidelines further indicate that multiple copying is allowed in the following situations (unless falling within one of the above prohibitions):

  1. When an individual teacher is "inspired to use a work, and the inspiration and decision to use it 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 permissions


  2. If the following limitations with regard to the amount of copying of a work are applied:

    If a complete article, story or essay is copied, and the work copied is less than approximately 2,500 words.

    If a prose work is excerpted and copied, and the excerpt copied is no longer than approximately 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is shorter.

    If a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture is copied, and not more than one such illustration is copied per book or per periodical issue.

    If a short poem is copied, and the poem is less than 250 words and printed on not more than two pages; or if an excerpt from a longer poem is copied, and the excerpt is not longer than 250 words.


  3. The copying is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.


  4. No more than one short poem, article, story or essay or two excerpts are copied from works by the same author.


  5. The original copyright notice must appear on all copies of the work.

    Multiple copying is allowed if all of the above criteria (A-E) have been met.

    Multiple copies are not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course.

    The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined belowIt meets the cumulative effect test as defined belowEach copy includes a notice of copyright.

    One thing is certain. . . when in doubt, request permission!

    Printing and Mail Services reserves the right to refuse a printing or copying request if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the requisition would involve violation of copyright law.