General Procedures

  • The University complies with the Copyright Act of 1976 and all subsequent amendments.
  • 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 Library.
  • Only limited amounts of a copyright-protected work may be reproduced as e-reserves (see Guidelines section below).
  • All e-reserve files produced by Course Reserves staff will include a notice of copyright on the first page, indicating that they may be subject to copyright restrictions.
  • Faculty are strongly encouraged to evaluate their materials for fair use before submitting course reserves requests in order to prevent delays in processing.
  • 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.

Guidelines for Course Reserves

Sec. 107 - Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use

The fair use provision of U.S. Code: Title 17, Section 107 (Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use) allows reproduction and other uses of copyrighted works under certain conditions for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

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  • The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Fair Use is not a blanket exemption to copyright law. The four factor fair use analysis is a subjective one. There is not one determinative factor; rather, each factor is weighed and balanced. Each use must be judged on a case by case basis.

However, the University Library has developed these course reserve guidelines for the use of copyrighted materials that is consistent with U.S. Code: Title 17, Section 107 (Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use). The purpose of the guidelines is not to limit fair use. Uses that exceed these guidelines may or may not be fair use. Generally, any reproduction of copyrighted material that is placed on reserve, without the copyright owner's permission will conform to the following guidelines.

  • Materials placed on reserve will be made available for students enrolled in that specific course 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 more than 1 chapter from a single work with 10 or more chapters or 10% from a work with 10 chapters or fewer. If short excerpts are taken from several chapters, the amount should be equivalent to the average chapter length of a book with 10 or more chapters or 10% from a work with 10 chapters or less.
  • No more than two articles per issue of a periodical will be placed on electronic reserve.If an instructor needs more than this limit, the University Library will investigate options including but not limited to obtaining the required permissions and/or licenses or assisting faculty in identifying alternative resources.
  • 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.
  • Please remind students enrolled in course about the limitations of copyright, and they must not further distribute copies to others.

Frequently Asked Questions

I'll be teaching this course again - can I just leave my reserves on permanently?
No. When a course is not in session, the copyrighted protected readings will not be active. It is also a violation if the instructor for whom the readings are on reserve is not actively teaching the course.

I want to post more than 10% of a book on electronic reserve - can I post 10% now, and then take that down and post another 10%?
Generally, copying less than a total of 10% of a book will be covered under Fair Use, though Fair Use is considered cumulatively on a semester basis. If you are going to post more than 10% of a book on electronic reserve over the semester, you will need to directly contact the University Library. In most cases, the University Library will investigate options for obtaining the required permissions and/or licenses or assist faculty in identifying alternative resource.

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.

Contact Us

(202) 885-3221
Bender Library, lower level

Regular Hours

Mon-Thur: 8am-11pm
Fri: 8am-9pm
Sat: 9am-9pm
Sun: 9am-11pm