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Library Copyright Policies

Section I-Purpose and Rationale

The purpose of this document is to establish guidelines for what constitutes "fair use" under copyright law of materials in the library's reserve collection. In drafting this document, many aspects of copyright law have been taken into consideration, as well as what the courts have ruled in regards to certain aspects of copyright law.

It has been decided that clear guidelines need to be established in terms of "fair use" so that there will be no question on the part of teaching faculty or library faculty as to whether or not a given item would be allowable in the library's reserve collection.

Section II-The Law

The sections of the U.S.C that deal with copyright law as it concerns the library and the larger university community are found in Title 17, specifically 107, 108, and 117. Because of its brevity and its central roll in the issues that this document seeks to address, 107 is presented in its whole, below:

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 -

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors

Because of the vagueness of the law, it behooves us is in the University's best interest to create guidelines of our own based on what the courts and law scholars have interpreted these sections of the law to mean.

As we are a non-profit educational entity, we have little to worry about from the first factor. The courts have also been reluctant to use factor four to determine whether a particular use is unfair, as it tends towards circular logic. Thus, this document's guidelines mainly concern the second and third factors laid out in 107.

Section III-Kinds of Works

The concept of "fair use" only extends to certain kinds of works. Keep these guidelines in mind when deciding to place materials on reserve.

Section IV-Amount and Substantiality

The following guidelines are based upon the general consensus of libraries and librarians, legal scholars, etc. as regards fair use of reproductions.


Section V-Time Limits

Although there are no specifics on time limits to fair use in Title 17, and the courts have yet to discuss this matter directly, in relation to other copyright matters there is a general agreement that there is some kind of limit. As such, we have developed these guidelines.


Section VI-Other Considerations


There are some other things to consider when placing materials on reserve. These guidelines grow out of the fourth factor. Though judges have not used it as a the sole factor in deciding if a particular use was "fair use," they do consider it in terms of punishment if they have determined by the other three factors that a particular use was "unfair."


Section VII-Online Reserves

Because online reserves are essentially reproductions, all of the above issues apply. Furthermore, with the advent of more recent, broad, vague (and possibly unconstitutional) laws dealing with digital media and copyright (i.e., the DMCA), extra care needs to be taken with online reserves and copyright. With this in mind, we came up with the following guidelines.


Section VIII-Conclusion

This document is not, by any means, an exhaustive analysis of all the legal and ethical issues involved in copyright and "fair use." We feel, however, that it is a good general guide to what is and is not permissible. If you have any doubt about placing something on reserve, or if you wish to place something on reserve that clearly violates the guidelines given here, then seek written permission from the copyright holder.

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