Technology is Changing What's "Fair Use" in Teaching


  • Linda Howe-Steiger University of California, Berkeley
  • Brian C. Donohue University of California, Berkeley



Computer Uses in Education, Copyrights, Fair Use (Copyrights), Internet, Reprography, Teaching Methods, Technological Advancement, Technology


The Doctrine of Fair Use was established by the courts to exempt certain activities such as teaching and research from the legal requirements of the copyright law. Before the 1976 Revision of the Copyright Act, only two cases were brought against teachers for copyright infringements. In both cases the teachers lost because their extensive copying was found to impact the copyright owner's market for legally published copies. Although the 1976 Act explicitly recognizes the existence of potentially Fair Uses, the act makes application of the principle highly situational. Classroom Guidelines attached to the Act make application even more murky and constrained. After 1976 photocopy technology and the advent of the coursepack began a trend towards circumscribing situations in which Fair Use may be applied. Potential impact on a new, lucrative market for sale of rights to copy portions of books and journals appears to dominate contemporary case law. Desktop publishing and Internet and web-based teaching, the authors believe, will further erode traditional applications of Fair Use for educational purposes. They argue that instructors and researchers should assume that there is no Fair Use on the Internet. Guidelines are provided for faculty and others considering dissemination of potentially copyrighted materials to students via digital technologies.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Linda Howe-Steiger, University of California, Berkeley

Linda Howe-Steiger is Director of the Technology Transfer Program for the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California Berkeley. She holds a BA in English from Bryn Mawr College, an MA from the University of Chicago, a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) from Rutgers University. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Rutgers is developing a series of on-line tutorials for transportation professions as part of the California Learn-Net project. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Brian C. Donohue, University of California, Berkeley

Brian C. Donohue holds a BA from Fordham University, an MBA in Information Technology from George Washington University, and a JD (Juris Doctorate). He received a Certificate of Advanced Trail Advocacy from Hastings College of Law and has taught "Intellectual Property Law and the Internet" for the University of California Berkeley Extension for six years. As Berkeley's Business Contracts Administrator he has executed on behalf of the Regents of the University over 100 Internet agreements.




How to Cite

Howe-Steiger, L., & Donohue, B. C. (2002). Technology is Changing What’s "Fair Use" in Teaching. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10, 4.