Book Chapter or Excerpt

If you would like to make a chapter or excerpt from a book available to your class, follow these steps:

1. Check to see if the library has the book 

You can use the Library Catalog to determine which print and electronic books are available through the library. 

2. Determine if copying or scanning the chapter or excerpt would be fair use

Using an excerpt from a scholarly book in a class already meets two of the four criteria for fair use.  There are two other factors that must be considered:  How long is the excerpt?  Would this use complement or compete with sales of the original?  (Note that literary works such as fiction, drama, and poetry have a higher degree of copyright protection than scholarly writing.  For those cases see Literary Works.)

  • If the library owns a copy of the book, then copying or scanning up to one chapter is fair use, as long as this is a small fraction (e.g., 10%) of the book as a whole.
  • If you own a copy of the book but the library does not, then copying or scanning a small excerpt of a few pages one time is fair use.  If you plan to use it again, you should ask the library to order either the electronic or print version of the book.
  • If neither you nor the library owns a copy of the book, then copying or scanning even a small amount may not be fair use.  You should either order the book for the library before you use it or get copyright permission.
  • If it is fair use, you may copy the chapter or excerpt for your class or scan it and post it on eCollege.  Be sure to include a complete citation and a copyright notice.

If you wish to use more of a book than is permissible under fair use, then you have several options for obtaining copyright permission or otherwise honoring the law.  Go to Step 3.

If the situation is ambiguous, it is best to err on the side of caution and treat it as a no.

Special Circumstances:

  • If the book was written before 1923, it is in the public domain and can be used without infringing on copyright
  • Most government publications are part of the public domain and can be used without infringing on copyright

3. Getting Copyright Permission

If you wish to use more of a book than is permissible under fair use, then you have several options:

  • If the work is available as an electronic book, ask the library to order an electronic version (you can provide links from eCollege or a course website, or students can access it through the library website)
  • Have students purchase copies of the book through the Campus Store or elsewhere 
  • Obtain Copyright Permission which may allow you to copy or scan up to 25% of the book
  • Ask the Campus Store to excerpt the book in a coursepack (they will obtain copyright permission)
  • Put the book on library reserve rather than copying it.  (You may put library books or personal copies on reserve, but not interlibrary loans.)
  • Or, of course, you can choose to use a shorter excerpt or a different book instead

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