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Copyright and fair use: FAQ

What types of materials can be placed on reserve? What types of materials are not appropriate to place on reserve?

Traditional reserves can include library books; instructor-owned books or journals; class notes and quizzes; student papers (by permission); small photocopied portions of copyrighted works; and any photocopied portion of items in the public domain.

Electronic reserves can include class notes and quizzes; student papers (by permission); links to websites or links to materials available through the Libraries? electronic subscriptions; small photocopied portions copyrighted works; and any photocopied portion of items in the public domain.

Materials that cannot be placed on reserve are Libraries-owned journals; Reference, Interlibrary Loan, and Prospector materials; complete or excessive reproductions of copyrighted materials; course packs; and consumable materials.

How do the Libraries determine if my reproduced materials meet copyright guidelines?

The Libraries Reserve policies are based on our interpretation of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 and the Fair Use provisions defined in Section 107, as well as American Library Association and Association of College and Research Libraries guidelines. See the following questions for specific interpretations of copyright.

What is Fair Use? Why aren't all materials used in teaching considered Fair Use?

Fair Use allows limited use of material without the copyright owner's permission. These limitations affect the amount, the period of time, and the circumstances under which the copyrighted material may be used. The fact that the material is being used for educational purposes does not make it exempt from Fair Use limitations.

Fair Use is defined in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976:

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. A helpful approach is provided from Georgia K. Harper's, University of Texas System Crash Course in Copyright (2001, top page). Somebody owns just about everything. Fair use lets you use their things, but not as much as you'd like to. Sometimes you have to ask for permission. Sometimes you are the owner, think about that!

How much of a copyrighted work may be reproduced for reserve according to the University Libraries reserve policies?

In addition to Fair Use guidelines, the Libraries have also defined our own policies on the maximum amount of reproduced, copyrighted material that may be placed on reserve. Our policies generally allow for the use of:

  • One article per issue of a journal or newspaper.
  • One graph, table, photo or illustration per issue of a journal or newspaper.
  • Up to 20% of a book or similar copyrighted work.
Items available through the Libraries' electronic subscriptions are governed by vendor license agreements and may allow for a larger amount of material to be used.

What if I need to place material on reserve that is in excess of the Libraries' copyright restrictions?

Instructors are responsible for securing permission or clearance to use material in excess of the Libraries Reserve policies.

There are several options for obtaining copyright permission or clearance. You can make your materials available in a course pack, which will pass the copyright fees on to the student. You can also contact the copyright holder to request permission to use the material for reserve (refer to University of Wyoming Information Circular, 1983).

Can I place my course pack on reserve?

Materials collected in course packs have received permission of use from the copyright holder with the cost being passed on to the student. Fair Use requires that we take into account the "effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work". Placing course packs on Reserve would adversely affect the cost paid to legally use the copyrighted items.

Can I place consumable materials on reserve?

Much like course packs, consumable materials, including standardized tests, workbooks, and exercises, affect the potential market for or value of a copyrighted work. Placing consumable materials on reserve would adversely affect the cost paid to consume the item.

If an item is out-of-print is it considered Fair Use?

Unless the material is within the public domain, it is still copyrighted and governed by Fair Use. Simply being out-of-print does not necessarily make an item part of the public domain. Currently, the public domain includes items published prior to 1923 or where the copyright has expired, items which the author has explicitly placed in the public domain, and items published by the U.S. Federal Government.

Can I use the same material for more than a semester?

Copyrighted material may not be used for the same class for more than two semesters without copyright permission or clearance.

What is a copyright notice?

A Copyright Notice is a reminder that the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies and other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The Libraries are authorized to provide duplicate copies of materials for private study, scholarship and research only. If a user requests or utilizes a reproduction for purposes in excess of these restrictions that user may be held accountable for copyright infringement.