Copyright and Fair Use

Maharishi International University supports “fair use” of copyrighted materials, as described in Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Act.

MIU policy is that, except for Fair Use, owners of copyrighted material should be written to for permission to use their materials and, when requested, paid for their work. To learn more, please read the MIU University Counsel Memo, below. You may also visit The University of Texas Library’s Copyright Crash Course.

MIU University Counsel Memo:


What is Fair Use?
Fair use is a way of limiting the exclusive rights of a copyright holder. It authorizes the reproduction of copies for purposes such as criticism, comment, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use or research (17 USC 107).

There is no definitive way of determining whether copying something falls under Fair Use or not, therefore the determination must be made each time by weighing four factors:

  1.  The Purpose and Character of the Use : Is the use of the copied material transformative?  i.e.: is it being used to help create something new rather than being merely copied verbatim into another work. If so, this weights in favor of Fair Use.
  2. The Nature of the Copyrighted Work.  Borrowing from factual works, such as biographies, is more likely to be a fair use, than would be borrowing from fictional works.  Borrowing from an unpublished work is less likely to be a fair use than borrowing from a published work.
  3. The Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken:  The less material borrowed, the more likely that the copying will be excused as fair use. However, even taking a small portion of a work will not be a fair use if the portion taken is the “heart” of the work.
  4. The Effect of the Use on the Potential Market for the Original Work.  If use deprives the copyright owner of income or undermines a new or potential market for the copyrighted work, it is less likely to be fair use (this fourth factor has been called by courts “the single most important element of fair use”).  In light of the above, copies made by students and professors exclusively for educational use, are more likely to be fair use. However, even usage for entirely educational purpose would not, on that factor alone, be called fair.

To help teachers and instructors to decide on Fair Use, legislators and the Copyright office have created a number of guidelines. They are summarized below:

FAIR USE Guidelines

I. Single Copying for Teachers
A single copy may be made of any of the following for a teacher’s own use:

  • A chapter from a book
  • An article from a periodical or newspaper
  • A short story, short essay or short poem
  • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

II. Multiple Copies for Classroom Use
Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

  • The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity
  • Meets the cumulative effect test, and,
  • Each copy includes a notice of copyright

Brevity: A usage is more likely to be considered fair if it is limited to the following:

  • A chapter from a book (never the entire book).
  • An article from a periodical or newspaper.
  • A short story, essay, or poem. One work is the norm whether it comes from an individual work or an anthology.
  • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.
  • Poetry
  • Copies of a poem of 250 words or less that exists on two pages or less or 250 words from a longer poem.
  • Prose
  • Copies of an article, story or essay that are 2,500 words or less or excerpts up to 1,000 words or 10 percent of the total work, whichever is less.
  • Illustrations
  • Copies of a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture contained in a book or periodical issue
  • Brevity for Special works (Defined as “Certain works in poetry, prose, or in ‘poetic prose’ which combine language with illustrations and are  intended sometimes for children or a more general audience, and fall short of 2,500 words”) Special works should never be copied in their entirety. An excerpt of no more than two pages or 10 percent, whichever is permitted.

Spontaneity: To be deemed fair:

  • The copying should be at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, 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.

Cumulative Effect
Please avoid:

  • Making multiple copies of different works to substitute for the purchase of books, publisher’s reprints, or periodicals.
  • Copying and using the same work from semester to semester.
  • Copying and using the same material for several different courses at the same or different institutions.
  • Copying more than nine separate times in a single term

Additional Checklist
This checklist should be used by faculty when deciding whether to copy a portion from a particular work. This will aid faculty in analyzing whether a particular use or copy of any pre-existing work being made may be Fair Use. The checklist will also assist us in recording the decision-making process. Maintaining a record of these fair-use analyses helps to establish reasonable and good-faith attempts to apply fair use to meet educational objectives.

If, after looking through the checklist it determined that the use of the work is not fair, it will be best to either purchase the material or ask the copyright owner for permission.

Should you have any questions, please contact the University’s General Counsel office, (641) 472 1175.


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