Answered By: Scott Thomson
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2014     Views: 20

First of all, proper attribution should ALWAYS be given for all sources used, regardless of whether the use is educational or not. If you would like to learn more about how to provide proper attribution, please see our AMA Quick Style Guide.

Contrary to popular belief, educational and scholarly use does NOT provide a blanket exemption from copyright law. Non-profit educational use does provide a greater amount of flexibility than for-profit or non-educational use when interacting with copyrighted information, but it does not give one freedom to disregard the law entirely.

Unfortunately, there is no absolute criteria for determining how much material one can use from a single source without violating copyright law. Copyright guidelines are intentionally vague to allow flexibility within the law. When attempting to determine if a proposed use of copyrighted material would violate copyright law, one must use the four factors for determining fair use to determine if the proposed use would be considered acceptable.

That being said, while not intended to be viewed as hard and fast guidelines, there is a set of 1976 recommendations (Scroll down to "How Much Can I Use?") for the use of material copied from books and periodicals in non-profit educational settings that are generally accepted as "safe harbor" limits.

For more information, please see our guide on copyright and fair use, or feel free to contact our copyright consultant.