Skip to Main Content

Copyright at UCSF: Best Practices for Faculty

Information on copyright, publishing, and intellectual property.


Use the UCSF Fair Use checklist to determine whether your use of copyrighted material(s) falls under Fair Use.

Use the copyright flow chart* to determine whether you need permissions when using copyrighted materials in your CLE courses. [*Courtesy of Martin Brennan, UCLA]

University of California Resources

Best Practices for Posting Materials to your CLE Course


Patent Law

  • Link to resources when possible. Try not to post PDFs of article to your CLE course pages. You can easily create links to UCSF licensed resources by using the tool on this web page. If the student is not on the campus network when they click on the link, they will be prompted to login using their MyAccess credentials.
  • Use materials that you have created, and of which you are the copyright holder. [Caution: if you have published the item, you may have transferred your copyright. Make sure you own or have retained your rights to use the the item before you post it to your CLE course.]
  • Conduct a fair use analysis for any copyrighted materials you plan to use for your course. Use a fair use checklist for this.
  • Use materials that are in the Public Domain.
  • Use materials published by the government.
  • Use materials that have a Creative Commons license.
  • Use materials from Open Access Journals.
  • Credit materials you use to the author/originator or copyright holder.

Photocopying for the Classroom

The following are general guidelines for photocopying materials to support your classroom instruction. These suggested guidelines are based on our interpretation of Circular 21. Please note that these "best practices" may not fit every situation; therefore, it is advised that you conduct a fair use analysis for any copyrighted materials you distribute to your students.

Photocopy Limits










  • Articles, stories, or essays less than 2,500 words.
  • An excerpt from a longer work (10% of a work or 1,000 words, whichever is less).
  • One chart, picture, diagram, graph, cartoon or picture per book or periodical issue.
  • Two pages (maximum) from an illustrated work less than 2,500 words (usually books for children).
  • An excerpt of 250 words from a poem that is greater than 250 words.

Other Guidelines

















  • No more than one copy per student. Usage must be "at the instance of inspiration of a single teacher" and when the time frame doesn't allow enough time for requesting permissions.
  • Only for one course.
  • No more than nine instances per class per term (current news publications such as newspapers can be used more often).
  • Don't create anthologies.
  • Don't use the same materials for more than one term.
  • Copies may be made only from legally acquired originals.
  • If time allows, always seek permission from the copyright holder.
  • Can't be directed from a "higher authority" (i.e., your boss, supervisor, etc.).
  • Copying can't be a substitute for purchasing (i.e., faculty who do not want to have their students purchase the book).

Additional Resources