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Copyright Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide information on copyright for faculty and staff who wish to place print materials or media on reserve at the Library's Checkout desk. The guidelines are based on copyright law, the American Library Association's "Model Policy Concerning College and University Photocopying for Classroom, Research and Library Use." and common practices of other college and university libraries.

Copyright Permission is needed before putting some materials on reserve and not needed in other cases.

Copyright permission is not needed for the following:

  1. Material for which an instructor, or other employee, or student holds the copyright and has given permission for use on library reserve. Note: Students own the copyright for their works. Instructors should get the student's permission before placing the student's work on reserve.
    • federal government publications
    • works published before 1923
  2. Material in the public domain, such as:
  3. Original (not copied) audiovisual and print items, such as books, videotapes, or journal issues.
    1. a journal article
    2. one chapter, constituting less than 10% of a book
  4. Single photocopies to be placed on reserve for one semester only; not for recurring use.  For example:

Copyright permission is needed for the following:

  1. Single or multiple photocopies (not originals) to be placed on reserve for more than one semester.
  2. Photocopies constituting more than 10% of a book.

Fair Use

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide whether a particular use is allowable under copyright law.  The Copyright Act, Title 17 of the US Code, provides guidelines for fair use of copyrighted materials without having to secure copyright permission. These statutory guidelines consist of four factors that can be used to judge when the use of a copyrighted work is fair use. Below is a very brief description of the four factors.

  1. The purpose and character of the use:
    Is the use for educational, nonprofit or commercial purposes? Use of a copyrighted work is more likely to be considered "fair use" if it is for educational, rather than commercial, purpose.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work:
    Is the work primarily factual or imaginative? Use of fiction, poetry and other imaginative works is less likely to be considered fair use.
  3. The amount of the copyrighted work being used and its substance:
    Is a significant portion of the work to be used? Use of a significant portion or "the heart" of the work is likely to be considered not fair use.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the work:
    Would the proposed use of the work reduce the market for purchasing the work?

The four factors are considered together when analyzing whether a use of a copyrighted work is fair use. Interpreting the four factors can be complicated. For more information, see the following:

Fair Use of Copyrighted Material, University of Texas
Copyright & Fair Use , Stanford University Libraries
Fair Use Questionnaire, Owens Library Northwest Missouri State University

How to get copyright permission

If copyright permission is needed, LCC employees need to secure that permission before bringing materials to the library to be placed on reserve.

The Copyright Clearance Center is the best place to start for journal, magazine, newspaper and book permissions. It expedites the permissions process online for a small fee. Requests are often processed within 24-48 hours. The CCC suggests submitting requests 4-6 weeks before permission is needed, although many requests are pre-approved and granted automatically.

For information about other ways to obtain copyright permission for a variety of formats, see Getting Permission, from the University of Texas.

For more information, also consult the following book:

Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off (2004)

Other considerations for library reserves

In addition, the Library observes the following guidelines, based on common practice at other libraries:

  1. Only material with appropriate citation or attribution will be placed on reserve.
  2. Each reserve item will include a copyright notice.
  3. The amount of material on reserve may constitute only a small portion of the total assigned reading for a course.

For more information

Copyright law and its applications are complex. For more information about copyright law in general, see the following resources:

Copyright Handbook
Copyright Crash Course, University of Texas
Library Copyright Information, Michigan Library Consortium

Public Domain Material

Material in the public domain does not require copyright permission to be placed on reserve.

U.S. federal government publications and many other (but not all) government documents are in the public domain.

Some copyrighted materials pass into the public domain when their copyrights expire. See Laura Gasaway's chart "When Works Pass into the Public Domain"

For more information on the public domain, see:
The Public Domain: How to Find Copyright-free Writings, Music, Art & More.


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