The Guidelines to Classroom Copying: What are brevity, spontaneity and cumulative effect?

Posted: October 11th, 2007 under Copyright Law Information, Guidelines for Classroom Copying.

A WORK OF POETRY meets the brevity test for example, if it is a complete poem, fewer than 250 words in length, and printed on no more than two pages. An excerpt from a longer poem meets the test if the excerpt is of no more than 250 words.

A work of prose meets the brevity test if ‘it is either a complete article, story or essay of fewer than 2,500 words; or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less. An illustration meets the brevity test if it consists of one chart, graph, diagram, cartoon or picture per book or periodical issue.

The brevity guidelines contain an inclusive category termed special works. These are works of poetry, prose or “poetic prose” which often combine language with illustrations, are intended sometimes for children (and at other times a more general audience) and fall short of 2,500 words. Special works may not be reproduced in their entirety; however, an excerpt comprised of no more than two of the published pages of a special work, and containing not more than 10% of the words found in the entire text thereof, may be reproduced.

A work passes the spontaneity test if it meets two conditions: 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.

Cumulative Effect
Finally, for material to meet the cumulative effect test, the copying of the material must be for only one course in the school where the copies are made: 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.

The guidelines outlaw unauthorized copying for the purpose of creating, replacing, or substituting for anthologies, compilations or collective works. Also prohibited is unauthorized 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.

Under the guidelines, unauthorized copying may not be substituted for the purchase or books, publishers’ reprints or periodicals, or be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term. Finally, the students may not be required to pay an amount greater than the cost of the copying.

For more detailed information, you can visit the official U.S. Copyright Office Home Page

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