Copyright and Fair Use

SMU Copyright Policy

It is the intent of Samuel Merritt University to comply with the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code, Sect. 101, et seq.). The University directs faculty, staff, and students to refrain from copying copyrighted works unless the action is authorized by:

(a) specific exemptions in the copyright law

(b) the principle of Fair Use

(c) licenses or written permission from the copyright owner

The Director of the Samuel Merritt University Libraries shall provide guidelines to ensure compliance with the law.

Fair Use

"Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism." (Stanford University Libraries

Copyright Guidelines

These guidelines for use in teaching apply to resources the Library doesn't own or subscribe to, including resources acquired via interlibrary loan:

  • No more than two articles from a single journal issue
  • No more than three articles from a single journal title in a five year span

  • No more than two chapters from a book or 15/% of the total book, whichever is less


North Carolina State University has prepared for faculty a list of questions and answers on copyright in the classroom and online. Here are some you may find particularly relevant:

  1. What can I show (display or perform) in class? What is the difference between "displaying" and "performing"?

  2. I own several films and would like to show clips from each of them in my class. May I? If so, I would like to copy the clips onto a single dvd for ease of presentation. May I? 

  3. Can I show a movie in class that I rented from Blockbuster? 

  4. What kinds of works can I incorporate into a powerpoint presentation? Charts, photos, graphics, cartoons, sounds? 


These resources are recommended for general information pertaining to copyright and fair use. Specific questions about copyright compliance and fair use should be addressed to Library Director Hai-Thom Sota

Video Introductions to Copyright