Lisa, an instructor at Acme Community College, has just come across a book that consists of ten essays on moral decisions in the workplace. She thinks students in her ethics class would benefit from reading all ten of the essays, but -- sensitive to her students' inability to spend a lot of money on textbooks -- she would like to avoid requiring that each student purchase a copy of the book. After giving the matter considerable thought, she asks the Acme copy center to photocopy nine of the essays; the number of photocopies Lisa has asked the center to make is equal to the number of students in her class. Lisa has not first obtained permission of the copyright holder in the book before making this request.
According to Lisa, her actions are protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. Is she correct?
No. Lisa's actions violate the doctrine of fair use. She has effectively attempted to reproduce 90% of this copyrighted work without the prior permission of the copyright holder. The amount and substantiality of the portion she wishes to have photocopied are disproportionate to the entirety of the copyrighted work. Moreover, it would likely pose an adverse effect upon the potential market of the work.
Lisa should first obtain prior permission of the copyright holder before attempting to have so many essays photocopied and distributed to her students. If she does not obtain that permission, she should consider reducing the number of essays she would want to photocopy and distribute to an amount within the parameters of fair use. Lisa could also ask the Acme library to obtain additional copies of the book and have it placed on reserve for her students.
Page Updated 11/18/04