10% Rule

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  • Hello Everyone-

    I am from a small community college and have been asked about the copyright implications of copying different 10% portions from the same book for different classes. Ultimately the entire book would be copied but given to different students. The amount of copies could number into the thousands depending on how many classes partake in this project. My first thought is that this violates the 10% rule. If I am right, please let me know. If I am wrong, please tell me why?

    Thanks so much.
  • What 10% rule are you referring to?

    If you're trying to take advantage of fair use, there is no such rule- that would likely be a guideline and does not actually have legal weight. Fair use does not have hard and fast numbers or percentages. You'll need to go through a fair use evaluation. We have other examples here on the board. The four factos of fair use are purpose, nature, amount, and effect on the market. The number of people receiving copies will certainly effect the evaluation.

    Purpose of the use: Educational, that is for fair use.
    Nature of the work: Hard to say. What's the book about? The more factual it is, the more likely it is to be fair use.
    Amount copied: 10%, but if it's the same agency copying it, then eventually it sounds like 100% will be copied. I'd say this goes against fair use.
    Effect on the market: The trickiest one, usually. If the copies could get into the thousands, that can certainly affect the market. Plus, the more often you do something like this, the less likely it is to be a fair use.

    For one class, I would certainly say it's fair use, and if instructors were doing it independently of one another, I'd also believe it to be fair use. The overall copying, though, I think is less likely to be fair use. Keep in mind that I'm not a lawyer... does anyone else have any other thoughts on the matter?
  • If this is running into thousands of copies, it sounds like this is a long-term practice, not just for one semester. I agree with COvalle that I don't believe it would fall under fair use--I can see that the effect on the market, while not always the most important factor, would be so in this case. The guidelines that you mention are just that--they have no weight in court and the 10% really has no meaning in this case since you are essentially copying the entire book. As COvalle said, I would rely on the four factors, not the guidelines that seem to be the basis for your question.

    I personally would contact the publisher and see if they would be agreeable to students purchasing needed chapters as opposed to the entire book. Some publishers, such as McGraw-Hill, lets students purchase online the chapters the instructor requires. If not, I still believe a copyright fee will be required to do the large amount of copying you mentioned.

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