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Copyright Policy for Library Course Reserves

Approved November 1, 2004; Updated February 7, 2018

Fair Use of Library Reserve Materials

Austin College Library's policy for providing access to copyright-protected materials through its print reserve service is derived from the fair use provisions of United States Copyright Act of 1976 (Title 17 of the United States Code). Section 107 of the Copyright Act expressly permits the making of multiple copies for classroom use. Such classroom copying is one of the specific examples of uses that 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 determined by four factors as described in the Copyright Law of the United States of America:

107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use 
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The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

The collections of the Austin College Library are purchased for the nonprofit educational use of students and faculty. All library materials are acquired with the understanding that there will be multiple uses of a limited number of purchased copies. Austin College Library reserves services are used solely for non-profit educational purposes to support teaching, scholarship, and research. Copies may be placed on reserve without securing copyright permission if the copying is related directly to the educational objectives of a specific course and if the copyrighted material is limited to brief works, or brief excerpts from longer works. Examples include a single chapter from a book, a single article from a journal, or unrelated news articles.


When are Permissions or Fees Required?

Faculty must obtain permission or pay appropriate royalty fees in order to place the following types of materials on print reserve:

  • Originals, photocopies, or digitized copies of standardized tests, exercises, or workbooks.
  • Photocopies or digitized copies of an entire book or musical score, or substantial portions of a book or score.

Faculty are responsible for complying with copyright law for their reserve materials. Items that fall under fair use as well as those that are not covered by copyright, as explained below, may be placed on reserve without obtaining copyright permission or paying copyright royalties. The library will not place any items on print reserve that it knows are not in compliance with copyright law. For a sample letter to send to a Copyright Owner, refer to Appendix A.


Public Domain Materials

Many materials, such as government documents and older publications, are in the public domain and not protected by copyright. Items in both of these categories may be photocopied for reserve without permission. Refer to the University of North Carolina's When Copyrights Expire web page for details regarding older publications.


General Guidelines for Print Reserves

All materials placed on print reserve will be at the initiative of faculty for the non-commercial, educational usage of students.

Whenever possible, materials to be used for print reserve will be those purchased or licensed by the library.

Copies submitted to the library for reserve must include a full bibliographic reference including author, title, journal title or book publisher, and a notice of copyright (© year of first publication). Materials submitted without this information may be returned to the faculty member for the addition of this required information.

The library will not place materials on reserve without permission if the nature, scope, or extent of copying is judged by the library to exceed the reasonable limits of fair use. Faculty must obtain permission or pay appropriate royalties in order to place copies of longer works (or substantial portions of longer works), such as complete books and performance scores.

There is no charge for access to print reserve materials; the charge for copies made by students will be limited to the nominal cost of photocopies or laser prints.

Users may make one copy for private study, personal reading, research, scholarship, or education.

Print materials will be returned to faculty at the end of the semester or sooner, if they are no longer needed.


Further Information

The electronic scanning of copyright-protected works for library reserve services is an unsettled area of the law which may be addressed in future revisions of the copyright law or through adjudication. Austin College will monitor legal developments which may affect the fair use analysis of reserve uses to ensure that library services are in compliance with the letter and spirit of the United States Copyright Law.

Appendix A

Sample Letter to Copyright Owner (Publisher) Requesting Permission to Copy


Material Permissions Department
Hypothetical Book Company
City, State, Zip

Dear Sir or Madam:

I would like permission to copy the following for continued use in my classes and/or to place such material on reserve for use by my classes in future semesters.

Title: Hypothetical Book, Second Edition
Copyright: Hypothetical Book Co., 1978, 1992
Author: Marcie Writer
Material to be duplicated: Chapters 7, 12, 22 (photocopy enclosed).
Number of copies: _____
Distribution: The material will be distributed to students in my classes and they will pay only the cost of the photocopying


Distribution: The material will be placed on reserve at the library for use by students in my ___________class each semester.
Type of reprint: Photocopy
Use: The chapter/article will be used as supplementary teaching materials.

I have enclosed a self-addressed envelope for your convenience in replying to the request.


Faculty Member

Campus Guide to Copyright

Copyright Terms Timetable

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States

  • U.S. Copyright Timetable, current as of January 2016.
  • Courtesy of Cornell University's Copyright Information Center.
  • A PDF version is available for download at the link above.

Fair Use Checklist

Austin College


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