Edith Hamilton Library

Copyright Information

Copyright for Educators and Students

The copyright law of the United States guarantees to all creators of art and literature the intellectual property rights to reproduction, distribution, adaptation, performance, and display of protected work. Copyrighted works include literature, music, drama, dance and pantomime, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and multimedia works, and all kinds of sound recordings. Computer software and databases are protected by both copyright and binding licenses. Almost everything on the Internet is subject to copyright laws.

In an attempt to balance the rights of copyright owners with the rights of students to be educated and teachers to teach, exceptions have been granted to educational institutions, and a set of guidelines for fair use has been established. All members of the Bryn Mawr community are expected to understand fair use guidelines and abide by their strictures. It is The Bryn Mawr School policy to adhere to the provisions of the Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code, Sect. 101 et seq.), the congressional fair use guidelines, and contractual agreements with providers of resources and services to our community. The school supports compliance with the law by all its constituents.

A fairly detailed guide is provided on this website. It offers rules for anyone in the school who wishes to reproduce, alter, perform or display works that are protected by copyright. The full text of the law, with some legislative history, analysis, and commentary, is available in paper format in the Edith Hamilton Library.  Electronically, that same information is included in the links below.

Questions concerning copyright may be addressed to the Library or to the Technology Department, whose representatives will direct you to relevant portions of the law. However, no official legal advice can be offered.  Employees of the school or students who violate copyright law do so at their own risk and assume all liabilities for their actions. In recent years, schools, non-profit groups, and churches as well as individual teachers and students have been sued and found guilty of copyright violations. Penalties can be extremely punitive. 

Useful Websites

Copyright for Everyone

If you buy a piece of land and build a house on it, you would be outraged if people walked over your property and took over your house, making themselves at home. You would undoubtedly object if people took things from your desk or locker or book bag at school. Intellectual property is no different. Its owners -- writers, artists, scholars, musicians, and companies connected with them, such as publishers, producers, and distributors -- wish to make a profit from their labors, and the federal government, almost from its inception, has offered protection in the form of copyright, patent, and later, trademark laws. Once something is copyrighted, the author has the exclusive right to do and authorize the following: 1) to reproduce the work, 2) to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work, 3) to distribute copies to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending, 4) to perform the work (in case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, motion pictures and other kinds of audiovisual works, and 5) to display literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pantomimes, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, motion pictures, or other audiovisual works. Copyrighters have exclusive rights.
This law would stop much teaching and learning from occurring were it not tempered by the fair use guidelines.  The guidelines were a compromise hammered out by the Congress, and agreed to by copyright holders and members of the educational profession. The compromise means that educators and students have certain special rights to the use of partial bits of protected, copyrighted materials without asking. The educational community is a special case. In order to keep these exceptions, the community must adhere to the guidelines.  

Therefore, for reasons of fairness and respect for the law, the policy of the school is that copyright fair use guidelines must be adhered to by all members of the Bryn Mawr community. Computer software and leased electronic materials are covered by purchase or lease agreements, which shall be honored. Trademarks and patents are recognized as special forms of intellectual property not covered by fair use.  Therefore, permission in writing must be obtained, should a trademark or patented entity be used by any member of the Bryn Mawr community.

List of 8 items.

  • Bryn Mawr Copyright Policy

    It is the intent of The Bryn Mawr School to adhere to the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code, Sect 101 et seq.), the congressional fair use guidelines, and contractual agreements with providers of resources and services to our community. The school supports compliance with the law by faculty, students, and staff.

    A manual is provided to faculty that offers guidelines for anyone in the school who wishes to reproduce, alter, or perform works that are protected by copyright. Since copyright protection applies to a variety of creative works -- printed materials, sound recordings, video recordings, visual artworks, multimedia productions, computer software, and Internet electronic materials-the manual addresses each in order.

    The full text of the law, with some legislative history, analysis, and commentary, is available in the Edith Hamilton Library.

    Employees of the school or students who violate copyright law do so at their own risk and assume all liability for their actions.

    Guidelines for Fair Use: (Excerpted from Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians. Washington, D. C. : United States Copyright Office., 199-) 
  • Printed Materials

    Single Copying for Teachers

    • 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 [or web page image];
    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 a teacher giving
    • the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:
    • The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below; and
    • Meets the cumulative effect test as defined below; and,
    • Each copy meets the cumulative effect test as defined below

    • Poetry: A complete poem if less that 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.
    • Prose: Either a complete article, story or essay of less 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, but in any event a minimum of 500 words. [Each of the numerical limits stated for Poetry and Prose above may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished line of a poem or of an unfinished prose paragraph.]
    • Illustrations: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue; [no more than 5 images of an artist/photographer in one program or printing and not more than 10% or 15% of images from published collective work, whichever is less.
    • Special Works: Certain works in poetry, prose or in 'poetic prose' which often combine language with illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and at other times for a more general audience fall short of 2,500 words in their entirety.  Such 'special works' may not be reproduced in their entirety; however an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages of such special work and containing not more than 10% of the words found in the text thereof, may be reproduced.
    • Spontaneity: The copying is 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: The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, not more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.

      There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term. The limitations stated above shall not apply to current news periodicals and newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals.

    Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:
    • Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.  Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.
    • There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be  "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching.  These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets.[Exception: a transparency may be made to teach or illustrate their use]-Excerpted from a legal ruling.
    Copying shall not:
    • Substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or periodicals;
    • Be directed by higher authority;
    • Be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
    • No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying
    [Permission may be obtained from the copyright holder to exceed the limitations of the Copyright Law.  Copies of the written permission should be kept by the copier with the original] - Excerpted from a legal ruling
  • Sound Recordings and Printed Music

    Music companies are very aggressive in protecting copyright. Many large fines have been leveled at individuals, schools, and churches. Fines can be levied for each illegal copy and for lost revenue. 

    Permissible Uses:

    • Emergency copying allows copies to be made to replace purchased copies which may not be available by performance time.  However, copies must still be purchased.
    • Copying for academic use other than performance:
      • Only one copy per student is allowed; no more than 10% of a work can ever be copied; single or multiple copying of a section can not comprise a performable unit like a section, movement, or aria.
        [Exception:  one has confirmation from the copyright holder(s) that the unit is out of print, or the unit is unavailable except in a larger work, or the copy is made for a teacher for the purpose of scholarly research or preparation for class.
    • Printed copies which have been purchased may be edited or simplified provided that the fundamental character of the work is not distorted, or the lyrics, if any, are not distorted, and no lyrics are added.
    • A single copy of a student's performance can be make for purposes of evaluation and rehearsal.  This copy can be retained by the educational entity or the student.
    • A single copy of a sound recording, i.e., a tape, disc, record, or cassette, may be made from the originals which are owned by the school or the teacher for the purpose of constructing aural exercises or examinations and may be retained by the school or the individual teacher.

      [Note: a sound recording may involve three copyrights: one for the music, a second for the recording, and a third on the arrangement.  If the sound recording is to be used in a public performance or a derivative work will be made, permission must be granted by all copyright owners.]


    • Copying to create or replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collected works.
    • Copying of or from works intended to be 'consumable' in the course of study or of teaching such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and answer sheets and like material.
    • Copying for the purpose of substituting for the purchase of music.
    • Copying without inclusion of the copyright notice which appears on the printed copy.
  • Video Recordings and Off-Air Recordings

    Note: There are two types of licenses for video materials, which are Videos with public performance rights and videos for home performance only.  There is virtually no problem with showing videos with public performance rights.  But in order for a school to use a video without paying royalties for a public performance, all four of the following criteria:

    • The use must take place in a classroom or similar place of instruction.
    • The use must be part of the regular instructional process and not recreational.
    • The use must be in the course of face-to-face-teaching activities.
    • The video must be a lawfully made or acquired copy.

    Guidelines for Off-the-Air Recordings (Guidelines apply only to non-profit educational institutions):

    • Recording (audio or visual) may be retained for a period not to exceed 45 calendar days, after which it must be erased or destroyed.
    • Off-air recordings may be used once by individual teachers in the course of relevant teaching activities, and repeated once only when instructional reinforcement is necessary, in classrooms or other academic places during the first 10 days of the permissible 45 days of retention.
    • Recordings can be made and used by individual teachers.  Any single program may only be recorded once, no matter how many times it is re-broadcast.
    • After the first 10 days, the copy may only be used for teacher evaluation purposes, i.e. to determine whether or not to include the broadcast program in the teaching curriculum. 
    • Off-air recordings need not be used in their entirety, but the recorded programs may not be altered from their original content.  They may not be physically or electronically combined or merged to constitute teaching anthologies or compilations.
    • Recordings must include the copyright notice on the broadcast program as recorded.
    • Educational institutions are expected to establish appropriate control procedures to maintain the integrity of these guidelines.
  • Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines

    Multimedia projects may contain original material and formats which include but are not limited to text material, graphics, video, music, sound, photographs, and illustrations which are incorporated into a presentation.

    Allowed Use:

    • Students may demonstrate and show their own educational multimedia projects for the course for which they were created and may use them in their own portfolios as examples of academic work.
    • Educators may demonstrate and show their own educational multimedia projects for face-to-face instruction, may assign them to students for directed self-study or use them at peer conferences and within professional portfolios.


    • Time: Educators may use their projects for teaching purposes for two years.  Use beyond that time period requires obtaining permission for each copyrighted portion.
    • Portion: Portions are generally specified "in the whole", meaning the total amount that can be used from a single copyrighted work
    • Video: Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, from a single copyrighted work.
    • Text material: Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less, from a single copyrighted work.  For poems, an entire poem of less that 250 words, but no more than three poems by one poet or 5 poems by different poets from a single anthology. In longer poems the 250-word limit still applies.
    • Music, lyrics, and music videos: Up to 10%, but in no event more than 30 seconds of the music and lyrics from a single musical work
    • Illustrations and photographs: No more than 5 images by an artist or photographer.  From a published collective work, no more than 10% or 15 images.
    • Data Sets: Up to 10% or 2500 fields or cell entries from a database or table.

    Copying and Distribution

    • There may be no more than two copies, only one of which can be placed on reserve.  An additional copy may be made for preservation (backup) purposes.

    Required Permission

    • Students and educators must get individual permissions for all copyrighted works used in their educational multimedia projects for non-educational or commercial purposes, or duplication beyond guideline limitations.

    Important Warnings

    • Exercise caution in using digital material downloaded from the Internet. Some copyrighted works cannot be reused without permission or royalty payments. Also, many websites contain material posted without authorization from the copyright holder.
    • Credit the sources and display the copyright ownership information; this information may be shown in a credit section.
    • A notice that "Certain materials are included under the fair use exemption of the U.S. Copyright Law and have been prepared according the educational multimedia fair use guidelines and are restricted from further use" must be included on the opening screen of the multimedia project and any accompanying print material.
    • Alterations of copyrighted works must support specific instructional objectives. Make note that alterations have been made.
    • Fair use guidelines do not preempt or supersede license agreements and contractual obligations. For example, bibliographic databases and software licenses are leased or purchased with accompanying licensing and/or contractual agreements.
  • Copyrighted Computer Programs

    The owner of a computer program is allowed to make one copy or adaptation of the program for archival (backup) purposes.
  • License Agreements

    If a computer program or bibliographic database is licensed, refer to the license agreement for specifics. By installing or using a licensed product, one is legally bound by its license or purchase agreement. The user/institution must review the terms and conditions of license or purchase agreements, especially statements relating to permitted uses, prohibited uses, restrictions, and copying limitations
  • Trademarks

    Trademarks are not included in fair use guidelines. They are fiercely protected by property lawyers who are very aggressive in taking anyone to court. Do not use trademarks in your presentations without receiving legal permission to do so.

Test Your Copyright Knowledge

Copyright law is complex and often confusing. This quiz was designed simply to get you thinking about some of the issues that can arise throughout the school year. Each division of the school has a copyright manual available for consultation. The Librarian and Director of Technology are happy to help with questions, though we cannot give legal advice on copyright.

  1. Your students are working on a classroom video project. Can they use six minutes of a half-hour news documentary?
  2. A history teacher taped the original ABC news report showing Richard Nixon leaving the White House after he resigned. She made it at home on her personal VCR and used her own tape. She uses the entire news program every year in her classroom. Is this fair use?
  3. You are creating a webpage and want to include some great images. Is it okay to use material from other websites as long as you cite it?
  4. True or False: Fair Use is the right to copy entire copyrighted works without permission as long as it is for personal use.
  5. CSL is holding a fundraiser for a charter school in Baltimore City at Mount Washington. They are going to show a teacher’s copy of "Wall.E." This is fine since the movie belongs to a teacher, right? 
  6. Is it permissable to copy 10 pages of a workbook for your students?
  7. Your students want to scan a section of a reference book, "Poetry Criticism," and paste it into Moodle so that they can all have access at the same time. Is this OK since Moodle is password protected?
  8. Is it OK to make a back-up copy of software you own?
  9. You want to rent "Gone With the Wind" to show the burning of Atlanta scene to your class while studying the Civil War. Is this okay?
  10. The library’s VHS copy of The Return of Martin Guerre is getting really worn out, and the movie is not available any more. May the librarian make a DVD copy from our video?
  11. May I copy an article from a book for each of my students?
  12. All of your 7th graders have worked really hard this year and you want to reward them by showing the movie "Up." Is this OK?

List of 1 items.

  • Copyright Quiz Answer Key

    1. No, The Fair Use Multimedia Guidelines state that you may use 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, of a motion media work. This would be over the amount listed in the guidelines.
    2. No. Television programs are protected by copyright laws. Under certain circumstances the tape may be shown only during the first ten consecutive school days after it is made, and only in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction under fair use.
    3. No, If you use an image on your website that you didn't create, you must get permission.
    4. False. Fair Use doctrine is a defense against copyright infringement, which applies in limited circumstances where a use was made for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching … scholarship or research. It is not a right to use copyrighted works.
    5. No, in order to show a video that doesn't support the curriculum, you must get a public performance site license.
    6. No, it is not permissible to copy from workbooks. Also, copying in lieu of purchasing an item, or items, is a violation of copyright.
    7. No, you may not change the form of a work from print to digital.
    8. Yes, you may make only one back-up copy.
    9. Yes, it is fair use.
    10. Yes, you may “rescue” the video.
    11. Yes, but there are specific guidelines about how often you can do that from a single book during a single year (usually no more than once per semester).
    12. Yes and no. You may only show films related to the curriculum unless your school has purchased a motion picture performance license. Since Bryn Mawr has a performance license, you may show non-curriculum movies such as "Up."
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, The Bryn Mawr School is a private all-girls kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school with a coed preschool for ages 2 months through 5 years. Bryn Mawr provides students with exceptional educational opportunities on a beautiful 26-acre campus within the city limits. Inquisitive girls, excellent teaching, strong student-teacher relationships and a clear mission sustain our vibrant school community where girls always come first.