Copyright and Course Reserves

General Policy

  • Electronic reserves service is an extension of traditional print-based library services and will be provided in a manner that respects Fair Use rights, the rights of copyright holders, and current copyright law.
  • All materials will be placed on reserve at the request of faculty only for the noncommercial, educational use of students.
  • All materials placed on reserve will be reproduced from copies lawfully obtained by either the requesting faculty member or the Libraries.
  • Only limited amounts of a copyright-protected work may be reproduced as e-reserves (see Specific Guidelines below).
  • Students will not be charged for access to Course Reserves materials. The charge for photocopies made by students will be limited to the cost of reproduction.
  • All e-reserve files produced by Course Reserves staff will include a complete citation and notice of copyright on the first page, indicating that they may be subject to copyright restrictions.
  • Authentication will be required for access to e-reserve files. Readings will be accessible only by course number, instructor name, and course name.
  • Links to licensed full-text electronic resources will be used in lieu of reproducing copyright-protected material whenever possible.


Specific Guidelines

Copyright Guidelines for Course Reserves are considered in compliance with U.S. Code: Title 17, Section 107 governing Fair Use (see Sec. 107 - Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use below). Specifically, any reproduction — either photocopied or electronic — of copyrighted material that is placed on reserve will conform to the following:

  • Materials placed on reserve will be made available for students and faculty only while the requesting instructor is actually teaching the course, and will be removed after the course is no longer in session.
  • Book selections placed on electronic reserve from works under copyright will not exceed 15% of the total pages in the source.
  • Journal articles placed on electronic reserve from works under copyright will not exceed two articles from any issue of the publication.
  • The above limitations are cumulative over the course of the semester.
  • E-reserves that are reactivated in subsequent semesters for the same course/instructor may require copyright permission. Copyright permission will be sought by Course Reserves staff though the Copyright Clearance Center. Materials for which copyright permission is unavailable may be removed from reserve.

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Sec. 107 - Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Note: The electronic provision of copyright-protected works for library reserve service and distance learning are unsettled areas of the law which may be addressed by judicial decisions and/or legislation. The University Libraries will continually monitor legal developments that may affect the Fair Use analysis of e-reserves to ensure that library services are in compliance with the letter and spirit of the U.S. copyright law.

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Use of Unpublished Works

To protect both students and faculty from unintentional misuse of unpublished materials, we require written permission for any request to place unpublished materials that are not the intellectual property of the instructor on reserve. Such materials include:

  • Any papers, projects or exams submitted by students while enrolled in a course.
  • Any unpublished materials, prepublication drafts, etc. not created by the instructor

Note: we do not require written permission for materials such as class notes, sample exams, etc. for which the requesting instructor is the author. For these materials, the instructor's request to place the material on reserve will constitute implicit permission.

The brief form below may be printed, completed and submitted with any reserve request for unpublished material meeting the above conditions. This form is not mandatory, and is presented for convenience only. Other forms of written permission that originate from the author and include the author's name, signature, title of the work, and the date permission was granted are also acceptable.


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Frequently Asked Questions

I'll be teaching this course again — can I just leave my reserves on permanently?

Our policy is to take down reserves at the end of each term. This allows us
to reassess copyright if they are used again. It can also improve our ability
to rely on fair use.


I want to post more than 15% of a book on electronic reserve — can I post 10% now, and then take that down and post another 10%?

Fair Use is considered cumulatively on a semester basis, therefore we cannot post successive portions totalling more than 15% of any single work within the same semester.

I was notified that one of my readings can no longer be posted on electronic reserve. But my class is using this reading right now — will it be removed immediately?

We will not remove any readings that are currently in use. However, readings for which permission is denied by the copyright holder will not be reactivated for future semesters.

I’ve used this e-reserve reading many times before — why has permission been denied now?

Publishers or other copyright holders may change permissions policies for a variety of reasons, including buyouts and mergers with other publishers. Even if we’ve posted a reading several times in the past, we may not be able to purchase permission for it in the future.

What other options do I have when permission to post an e-reserve reading is denied?

  • Request that a hardcopy of the work from which the material was excerpted be placed on reserve.
  • Find the same reading in an alternate source. Permission can generally only be sought for a source, not a specific reading. If a reading was excerpted from an anthology or other collection, it may also be available from another source for which permission is available. Course Reserves staff will be happy to assist you in finding a ‘copyright-friendly’ source if one is available.
  • Find alternate materials. The Libraries' collection development and subject specialists can assist you in finding other useful material for your course, keeping in mind copyright considerations. Also, the libraries’ electronic resources provide a wealth of full-text content.


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