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Copyright Law and Course Reserves

We provide students and faculty with access to course-related materials for the purposes of education and research.

While we promote the open exchange of ideas crucial to the education of our students, it is also our obligation to adhere to existing copyright law. To that end, we will work with faculty to assure that material placed on reserve is a “fair use” of copyrighted materials. The library will seek to obtain copyright permission for materials that fall outside of “fair use.”

What is Fair Use?

The 1976 Copyright Act grants the “fair use” of copyrighted materials for a variety of purposes, for the creation of new works, for educational use and for personal use. There are four nonexclusive statutory factors — all directed to the marketing of works — to use in determining whether a use is fair. They are:

  1. The purpose of the use, including whether such use is for commercial or for non-profit educational purposes. (Commercial purpose implies a use of the copyright; educational purpose, a use of the work.)
  2. The nature of the work. (This requires a determination of whether the work is a creative work, a compilation or a derivative work.)
  3. The amount used in relation to the work as a whole. (The amount of the work used is a major factor in determining whether the use is merely a use of the work or a use of the copyright; the greater the amount used, the more likely the use will be a use of the copyright.)
  4. The effect of the use on the market or potential market for the work.

(Excerpted from: Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia: Office of Legal Affairs. “Regents Guide to Understanding Copyright & Educational Fair Use”; Part I. Principals of Fair Use.)

Preventing Liability

All materials submitted for library reserve are subject to copyright review. The United States Copyright Office offers informational materials to assist you in determining fair use.

The use of a copyrighted work for library reserves is more likely to favor fair use if the library or faculty member owns a copy of the original work. Therefore the library encourages faculty to submit a request to purchase books for reserve that the library does not currently own. On the request form, enter “For Reserve” in the Comments box.