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Electronic Reserve Copyright Guidelines

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, US Code) governs the making of reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions, libraries are authorized to furnish a reproduction, but one of the specified conditions is that the reproduction will not be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.

Because the library is considered an extension of the classroom, access to reserve materials is limited to course and instructor's name. When faculty submit items to Reserve/EReserve, they should provide the author's name, title of the work, and copyright statement, if there is one. Reserve materials are available only for the semester in which the class is taught. Any uses beyond the first semester require copyright permission. Reserve Department staff will apply for such permission.

Instructors should not place materials on reserve unless the instructor, the library, or another unit of the university possesses a lawfully obtained copy. The total amount of material on reserve for a class should be a small proportion of the total assigned reading for that class when invoking fair use. Materials are available only to the University of Vermont community and all are expected to adhere to these copyright and fair use guidelines.

New, and as yet uncodified, interpretations of the copyright law apply to libraries' electronic reserve systems that provide access to online class materials. Therefore, University Libraries Copyright Guidelines apply alike to materials provided through the David W. Howe Memorial Library Reserve Desk and to materials available through Electronic Reserve.

The guidelines described below apply to all Howe Library Reserves and are in compliance with US Code, Title 17 and UVM Copyright Policy V.2.12.1. Material submitted which violates any of these regulations will NOT knowingly be made available by the library. Instructors will be notified upon discovery of copyright violations and will result in delayed access to class materials through University Libraries.

Fair Use Guidelines

Copyright law recognizes that certain uses of copyrighted materials are deemed lawful even without permission from the copyright owner. The U.S. Copyright Act provides that “the fair use of a copyrighted work . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

Unfortunately, there are no bright line tests or reliable rules for determining whether or not a particular use of another’s copyrighted materials is a fair use, even if it is for scholarship or research purposes. The determination is highly fact-specific, and therefore must be made on a case-by-case basis. Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act provides four non-exclusive factors that should be considered when determining if a given use of a copyrighted work is fair:

  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; 
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

All four factors above are considered when determining if a particular use is fair, but copyright law does not specifically limit an analysis of these four factors. Other factors can be considered, depending on the particular use. A court’s determination that a use of a copyrighted work under one set of circumstances is fair or not does automatically mean that a similar use under a different set of circumstances would result in the same conclusion.

If the University does not have a license covering the proposed use, and after completing the fair use analysis, you believe that your proposed use is unlikely to be a fair use, it still might fall under the other statutory exemptions discussed below such as the face-to-face teaching exemption or the TEACH Act. If no exemptions apply, permission must be obtained from the copyright owner before using the work.

Comments? Questions? Concerns? Contact Reserve Department, David W. Howe Memorial Library, 656-2023.

last rev. 10/14