A guide to preparing course readings (aka coursepacks) for use in Moodle or for library reserves at California College of the Arts

The following guidelines will help minimize liability for copyright infringement by the college and its faculty. They do not, however, "limit the types of copying permitted" and "copying which does not fall within the guidelines stated below may nonetheless be permitted under the criteria of fair use." (Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians. US Copyright Office, 1995, p.8)

Individual instructors have responsibility for determining whether any instance of copying is permitted under fair use and if so, may make those copies available to students via Moodle, library reserves, or other college-supported system of dissemination.

Instructors have responsibility for obtaining copyright clearance for any material that cannot be copied under the fair use provision. See below for how to make a fair use determination and how to obtain permissions.


OK to use freely
  • Links to material that's already available online
  • PDFs or other downloadable formats in electronic resources licensed by CCA or the CCA Libraries, e.g. JSTOR, ArtFullText
  • Digital scans of printed text in the public domain, generally published before 1923
  • Materials with Creative Commons licensing


OK to use under fair use guidelines

(based on Copyright Office Circular 21 - www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf)

A. A limited portion of the work, never the whole publication

  • Prose: a complete chapter, article, story, or essay, not to exceed 2,500 words
  • Poetry: one complete poem, or an excerpt if more than 250 words
  • Illustrations: one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture per book or per periodical issue. In some cases, such illustrations are copyrighted individually and cannot be reproduced under fair use

B. Does not adversely effect sales

  • The copied material is used in only one course per semester by the instructor
  • 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 a semester
  • Making multiple copies under fair use is limited to nine instances per course per semester
  • These limitations do not apply to current news periodicals and newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals.

C. Students are not charged for copied material over and above the actual cost of producing the copies

D. Access is limited to students in the class for which the material was copied

E. Each copied piece must include a copyright notice, preferrably citing the copyright holder


Copyright permission is required
  • The amount of material copied is greater than allowed under fair use
  • The copied material is used for more than one course taught by the instructor
  • The same material is used for the same course for more than one semester
  • The material copied is consumable, e.g. workbooks, exercises, test booklets
  • The work is unpublished, unless it's your own

Formats other than text
  • Audiovisual clips: Excerpts or clips of audiovisual material may be posted to a Moodle course site under fair use provisions when the excerpts are very brief, very few, and are accessible for a short period of time. Media dubs or off-air recordings may not be placed on library reserve because such use is deemed to be not spontaneous.
  • Images: All images found in ARTstor may be used per the CCA Libraries license agreement. Spontaneous copying of other images may be permissible as proposed in Appendix H of the Conference on Fair Use report, 1996:

[begin quote] Educators, scholars, and students may digitize lawfully acquired images to support the permitted educational uses under these guidelines if 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. Images digitized for spontaneous use do not automatically become part of the institution's image collection. Permission must be sought for any reuse of such digitized images or their addition to the institution's image collection.[end quote]


Sources for determining fair use or public domain status

CCA librarians may assist you with these sources, but it is up to the instructor to make a final determination about the legality of each copying instance.

Note that anyone making copies should be prepared to use the "good faith fair use defense" to minimize liability. "It only applies if the person who copied material reasonably believed that what he or she did was a fair use" based on consideration of applicable factors and guidelines. (copyright.lib.utexas.edu/copypol2.html#liability)


How to obtain copyright permission

According to Richard Stim, "It's the instructor's obligation to obtain clearance for materials used in class. Instructors typically delegate this to task to one of the following:"

  • Clearance services
  • University bookstores or copy shops
  • Department administration

(Getting permission: how to license & clear copyrighted materials online & off, by Richard Stim. Nolo Press, 2000)

UC and Stanford instructions for obtaining permissions

Download a sample pdf form letter.

At CCA the role of the library is to license electronic resources for use by the entire college; the library seeks rights only for those materials being added to the permanent library collections. The library does not arrange copyright clearance for individual instructors.


Other ways for students to get course readings:
  • Put the book, journal, or video on reserve; if the library doesn't own it, instructor's personal copies can substitute. (Due to space limitations, it may be necessary to rotate some material off reserve during the course of the semester.)
  • If it's a journal article, see if it's in one of the electronic databases at the CCA Libraries or San Francisco Public Library.
  • Encourage students to buy the book or rent the video if inexpensive; or to find copies at other libraries.
  • If a book or journal will be used by several instructors over the course of several years, ask if the library can locate an electronic copy to license for its permanent collections.

These guidelines have been approved as policy at CCA per the Provost, September 2009.

last updated: Fall 2009