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Last Updated: Aug 15, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Copyright Guidelines

Copyright Guidelines
"Only one thing is impossible to God; to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet." - Mark Twain 

The Library policy for reserves is based on the fair use provision of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. This provision gives guidelines for use of copyrighted works. Section 107 of the Act expressly permits the making of multiple copies for classroom use. This educational copying is one example of uses which do not require the payment of a royalty or the permission of the copyright owners provided that the circumstances of the use are fair as outlined in the four factors in Section 107 of the Act. The text of this Section is:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted works, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in 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 education 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 Library offers the following Rules of Thumb as an interpretation of the fair use guidelines:

1.  Limit reserve materials to:
-  Materials that a faculty member or the library already possesses legally (i.e., by purchase, license, fair use, ILL, etc.)
-  A small part of the materials required for the course

2.  Include:
-  Any copyright notice on the original

-  Appropriate citations and attributions to the source

3.  Limit access to students enrolled in the class and library staff as needed.  Access will end when the semester or course ends.

4.  Limit the amount of time a material is on reserve.  Materials are added to the reserve collection for one semester only.  Obtain permission for materials that will be used again by the same instructor for the same course or for more substantial portions of works.  If you must ask for permission, ask for the broadest scope you can get.  Alternately, coursepacks can be prepared through the Bookstore.

(The above information has been adapted from the University of Wisconsin- Madison policy and the University of Texas System, Office of General Counsel

Information on obtaining copyright permission is available from the Copyright Clearance Center, at or 222 Rosewood Drive Danvers, MA 01923 USA. Phone: 978-750-8400. Fax: 978-750-4470

As an alternate to obtaining permission for reuse or use of substantial portions of copyrighted materials, instructors may want to consider preparing coursepacks of required readings. The University Bookstore has established an account with the Copyright Clearance Center and will assist instructors in obtaining materials for the coursepacks. Contact Vaughn Russom, Director of Bookstore Operations, YU 124A, or 394-8327.


Prepared by:
Deb Nordgren
June 1999


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