Coursepacks are compilations of newspaper, magazine, and journal articles, book excepts, open educational resources, and instructor-authored materials. Coursepacks allow you to give your students the most current and relevant information available and can often eliminate the need for your students to buy multiple books when only portions of each are needed. This provides tremendous savings for your students! We obtain all of the copyright clearances, pay the royalties, produce your coursepack to your specifications, and deliver them to the bookstore for sale alongside your students’ other books. This service costs you nothing and no class is too small.
Need help selecting your content? Our team is here to help you find the perfect combination of materials for your students.
In 1989, a lawsuit against Kinko’s Graphics Corporation was filed by eight book publishers. The court held that Kinko’s practice of photocopying multiple page excerpts from copyrighted works without authorization to create anthologies—and the selling of those anthologies for profit—violated publishers’ copyrights. In addition to stopping Kinko's from photocopying works without permission, the court awarded the plaintiffs damages, court costs, and attorney's fees totaling almost 2 million dollars.
A second case filed against against Michigan Document Services in 1997 further affirmed the court’s position. The court determined that use of the copyrighted materials for an educational purpose does not itself constitute fair use and held MDS to be infringers. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision, MDS settled the case. More than 20 additional cases have been filed since 2002—all with similar results.
These court rulings establish the rule that you need to obtain permission before reproducing copyrighted materials for an academic coursepack. Fortunately, our permissions team is here to help. To learn more about our permissions services please visit our Permissions page.
As of 2023, if a work was published prior to January 1, 1927 it is in the public domain. If a work was published with a copyright notice between January 1, 1927 and December 31, 1963 the initial copyright protection lasts for 28 years from the date of publication. Copyright holders have the option to renew their copyright claim for an additional 67 years. If after the initial 28 years the copyright claim is not renewed, the work is in the public domain. If the copyright claim was renewed, the work will enter the public domain 95 years from the date of publication. If a work was published with a copyright notice between January 1, 1964 and December 31, 1977, it will enter the public domain on 95 years from the initial date of publication. If a work was published without a copyright notice between January 1, 1924 and December 31, 1977, the work entered the public domain upon publication as per the Copyright Act of 1909. If a work was created before January 1, 1978 and published between then and December 31, 2002, the work is protected for the life of the author plus 70 years or until December 31, 2047, whichever is greater. If a work was created and/or published on or after January 1, 1978 the work is protected for the life of the author plus 70 years from the date it was first published or fixed in a tangible medium.
Most items produced by the government are not copyrighted, and are considered “public domain” works. As these publications are provided for information to the general public, existing copyright laws do not protect governmental publications from unauthorized duplication. If the document was created by an independent contractor for the government it may be subject to copyright protections.
The Fair Use Doctrine is a doctrine which permits limited use of portions of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether your use is a fair use. Please see our outline of Fair Use Guidelines for more information.