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Faculty Course Reserve Guide

How to place items on reserve, checkout times, copyright guidance, and more.

Reserves and Copyright: A Primer for Faculty

1. Can I place books and articles on print reserves?

Yes, copyright law allows books and photocopied journal articles to be placed on print reserves. Articles and book chapters require a copyright notice (see Copyright Notice Form, the box at left), in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

2. Can I place books, book chapters, and articles on electronic reserves?

Yes, if one of the three following conditions are met:

  • You acquire copyright permission (see box to the right, "Acquiring Copyright Permission"), or
  • The book or article is in the public domain, or
  • The library has licensed the book or article electronically (ask the library for assistance determining if a resource is available or can be acquired).

In the case of book chapters, you may place these on reserve if they constitute a reasonably small percentage of the actual book -- for example, one chapter in a book with ten chapters.

3. How do I know if an item is in the public domain?

Government documents and material published before 1923 are generally in the public domain and may be reproduced in their entirety without requesting permission from the copyright holder. For other materials, the library can provide assistance for determining whether an item is in the public domain or use the Digital Copyright Slider guide. 

4. Where can I give students access to my electronic reserves?

To meet copyright compliance guidelines, upload or link documents through your Canvas courses. Do not upload copyright-protected documents to the open web.

5. Can I place a scanned book chapter on electronic reserve?

Yes, in most cases. Fair use guidelines allow about 15% of any document to be placed on reserve, which is approximately one chapter. You will need to provide a copyright notice. 

6. Why can't I scan an entire book or journal article to upload for my class?

Material placed on electronic reserve must fall within the bounds of fair use, in accordance with U.S. copyright law. It is an infringement of copyright to electronically reproduce more than limited portions of intellectual property not yet in the public domain without first acquiring permission from the copyright holder to do so. The rule of thumb is about 15%, or approximately one book chapter or a few paragraphs from a journal article.

It is possible to provide more than 15% of a book or journal article -- if you acquire permission to do so.

7. Are course packs legal?

Absolutely, if the following conditions are met for each article or book excerpt:

  • You acquire copyright permission (see box on right, "Acquiring Copyright Permission," or
  • The book excerpt or article is in the public domain, or
  • (For digital course packs) The library has already licensed the item.

You will need to include a Copyright Notice for each article or book excerpt. Alternatively, create a single page with all relevant citations and include that page in the course pack.

8. How long may I keep items on reserve?

Due to copyright restrictions, materials that are not in the public domain or have not had rights purchased or otherwise acquired cannot stay on reserve for two consecutive semesters. In other words, books, book chapters, articles, and so forth must be returned to departments at the end of each semester.

9. Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring copyright compliance for course reserves?

You, the instructor, are responsible for ensuring copyright compliance with course reserves. However, the library is unable to place items on course reserve that clearly do not meet copyright guidelines.

Acquiring Copyright Permission

Copyright Clearance Center

The Copyright Clearance Center is a for-profit service that grants permission to reproduce copyrighted content such as articles and book chapters in Blackboard, photocopies, coursepacks, library reserves, Web sites, e-mail and more. Permission fees are generally about 15 cents per page (some resources are higher, some are lower).

The Library reserves most of its book budget for faculty-selected materials. This includes obtaining CCC permissions for course materials. Let the Library know the articles you wish to acquire rights for. You can use the following information to estimate the cost of acquiring permissions for each item you wish to use in class.

Other Copyright Clearance Sources

The Copyright Clearance Center has a large database, but it isn't comprehensive. For help securing permissions for resources you can't locate in CCC, see this guide from Dartmouth.

Other Copyright Resources

The University of Texas has an excellent website about fair use and reserve room operations. Also see the copyright website maintained by Stanford University and Indiana University. A good if slightly dated print resource is Copyright Essentials for Librarians and Educators by Kenneth Crews (Chicago: American Library Association, 2000).