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Copyright and Fair Use: Course Reserves

Copyright and Fair Use resources and information for students, faculty and staff

Course Reserves and Copyright

The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material, including those being used in libraries for course reserves.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 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The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.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 James E. Walker Library reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order for use with course reserves if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.


Photocopies of Copyrighted Materials

All copyright protected photocopied material will prominently display a notice warning that the material is protected by Copyright Law (title 17, United States Code) and must adhere to the Walker Library’s Copyright Guidelines. Copyrighted materials include photocopies of chapters from books, articles from newspapers or periodicals, a poem, story, essay, or excerpt from a creative work.

Electronic Reserve Materials

All copyright protected electronic Reserves materials are subject to copyright restrictions and must adhere to the Walker Library’s Copyright Guidelines. Electronic Reserves materials include photocopied materials that have been electronically scanned, full-text resources from electronic databases, links to websites, and Word or PowerPoint documents uploaded and saved as PDF files.

General Procedures

Walker Library staff will adhere to the following general procedures to make sure that copies in either a paper or electronic format placed on Reserves comply with both the spirit and specifics of the 1976 Copyright Act and the Fair Use provisions described therein:

  • Materials placed on Reserves will be placed at the initiative of MTSU faculty and staff for the non-commercial, non-profit educational use of their students.
  • Materials copied or scanned for the purpose of placement on Reserves will be in the legal possession (by purchase, gift acquisition, Fair Use license, etc.) of the Walker Library, or of the instructor placing the item in Reserves.
  • There will be no charge to students to access material on Reserves.
  • Access to materials on Reserves will be limited to MTSU faculty and students affiliated with the class through the Library’s electronic reserve system using an electronic password verification system.
  • Only a limited portion of a book or journal may be photocopied and placed on Reserves. Complete books or substantial portions of materials will not be copied for placement on Reserves without written permission of the copyright holder.
  • A notice of copyright will appear on the user’s screen and on copies made to indicate that the item may be covered by copyright law. An appropriate citation regarding the source of the item will also be included.
  • Copyright protected works will be removed from Reserves at the end of each semester.

Because the scanning and utilization of copyright-protected materials for placement on Reserves is an unsettled area of law which may be interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court or by further revision of the U.S. Code by legislation, the James E. Walker Library reserves the right to change its policy and procedures to conform to future judicial opinion or Congressional guidance.