The Digital Media Project



Philip Merrill


TRU #54 Right of copying for classroom instruction




Philip Merrill

Affiliation/additional information:

Active Contributor, Pasadena, California

Date submitted:







Name of TRU

Right of copying for classroom instruction


Summary description of TRU

Classroom instruction enjoys wide liberties in the use of materials to convey educational information to students (this does not extend to distance learning or the sale of commercial educational products).


Use records of TRU

Even before U.S. fair use gave special treatment to "nonprofit educational purposes" and "teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use)" (Sec. 107), European legislation permitted many practices that were considered fair to enable classroom instruction to be as productive as possible. It is generally perceived that informatory use is so important as to serve a social need that should be facilitated, and when it comes to teaching the next generation this is especially urgent.

Consider the format of teacher with blackboard and students taking notes. For scribes, it is certainly a copy factory of some kind. Can the teacher improvise to create classroom displays or pass out handouts? Yes. A humorist might ask however if students are allowed to leave the classroom with these handouts in their possession.


Nature of TRU

The key provision in Berne's 1971 Paris text is 10(2): "It shall also be a matter of legislation in the countries of the Union, and for special agreements existing or to be concluded between them, to permit the utilization, to the extent justified by the purpose, of literary or artistic works by way of illustration in publications, broadcasts or sound or visual recordings for teaching, provided such utilization is compatible with fair practice."

This should be considered to apply to conventional classroom instruction only. On pp. 14-15 of, Ricketson expands on Berne Article 10(2) quoting the 1967 Stockholm Conference Committee's Report: "The wish was expressed that it should be made clear in this Report that the word 'teaching' was to include teaching at all levels-in educational institutions and universities, municipal and State schools, and private schools. Education outside these institutions, for instance general teaching available to the general public but not included in the above categories, should be excluded." And goes on to say, "This is a restrictive interpretation, [34] as it clearly excludes the utilization of works in adult education courses, ..." Footnote [34] reads "Note that in Main Committee I some delegates thought that this was too limiting: ibid, 886 (Mr. Reimer, FRG)." and ibid refers to the "Records" of the 1967 Committee I. In Paul Goldstein's International Copyright, section 5.5.I.2.C Footnote 887 quotes the WIPO Guide to the Berne Convention that: "From this, one can deduce that mere scientific research is not within the scope of the paragraph." (Paris Act, 1971) 60 (1978)

Section 5.5.I.2.C elaborates types of materials that can be reproduced according to book and periodical guidelenes as including "single copies for the teacher's scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class" but excluding "copying to create, to replace, or to substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works and also prohibit copying from 'consumables' such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, and test booklets and answer sheets." Multiple copies that "meet specified tests of brevity, spontaniety, and cumulative effect" may be made so long as the number of copies is not more than the number of students.

It is noteworthy that while classroom display of audio or audiovisual material including films and music is most likely liberally permitted, duplication of take-home copies of music or video is not covered by that permission. This is an opportunity that commerce could correct on a very affordable, student-version basis.


Benefits of TRU

Benefits society at the species level. Can benefit governments and corporations selling instructional material. Benefits those End-Users who are students participating in classroom learning activities.


Possible digital support

The classroom is a natural location for physical-reproduction peripherals to accompany an IED because so many sales to students could be conveniently and cheaply negotiated and licensed. It also is a place where premium materials could be sold for one-time display only, for example like an affordable video jukebox.

It is noteworthy that (articles 35 and 36) Japan's Copyright Act "provides more broadly worded exemptions for schools and other educational institutions." (5.5.I.2.C) This could suggest exciting business opportunities.

Goldstein's section cites German's Copyright Act article 46 as permitting school and religious anthologies, which also suggest content possibilities for distribution (for example on the basis of a small, optional fee or possibly a compulsory license).

As for personal notes that a student would take in class, handwritten notes have traditionally been exempt, see for example section 5.5.I.I.A especially Italy's Copyright Act 68(I). This suggests copies of digital media that dead-end in the IED might be able to be treated more liberally than copies conferring 'permanent' private enjoyment to the 'owner'/buyer of a fixated copy. There are also many scholarly uses, at times related to scientific research, that are variously permitted and could be licensed.

Like TRU factual reporting, this TRU is essentially established by its informatory purpose.

Taken together, these are suggestive of mall classrooms that could be rented by the general public to receive copyright protected and secure multimedia materials, including news and research. Student work authored in such a setting could potentially be published from there.

Could use DEU 40 to provide unique series of quotes in a multimedia slideshow providing a curated research tour of digital resources available for in-class study, such as a "Write a paragraph about..." assignment.



licensing for in-class use

national guidelines for permitted in-class uses

governance for in-class physical reproduction devices and vending