Reserve Copyright Information: Is Permission Needed?
Fair use is the use of copyrighted work for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research that is not an infringement of copyright.
When copying or digitizing materials for reserve collection, consider all of the following fair use factors to determine if the use is fair or not:
- Purpose and Character of the use
Copying by non-profit institutions for educational use weighs in favor of fair use.
- Nature of the copyrighted work
Published factual materials (texts, journal articles, treatises) rather than creative and fanciful (novels, short stories, plays or similar works) weigh in favor of fair use.
- Amount and substantiality of the part copied
As the amount of work copied increases, fair use decreases. The amount should be reasonable in relation to the total work. For example, copying 1 chapter from a book or 1 article from a journal may be reasonable.
- Effect of the use on the market for copyrighted work
If copying of the work results in the loss of licensing and royalty fees, then the weight to lends toward unfair use.
- How many times have you placed the same duplicated work on reserve?
If you have placed the item on reserve 2 or more times, copyright permission is required. Permission from the copyright holder is required if the item is to be used in a subsequent semester for the same course offered by the same instructor, or if the item is a standard assigned reading for a course taught by more than one instructor.
- Is the total amount of copies placed on reserve a small portion
of the total assignments for the course?
The amount of copies should be reasonable in relation to the total amount of materials assigned for the semester taking into account the nature of the course, its subject matter and level.
- Is the document a compilation of copyrighted works from various
sources on a subject?
If so, copyright permission must be obtained from the copyright owner of each work.
- Does VCU Libraries, the department, or the instructor own a copy
of the duplicated work?
If not, copyright permission will be needed. Collection Management will consider for purchase material not in the Libraries' collections. The copy may be used until the purchased original is received.
- Is the copied work a "consumable" such as
standardized tests, or test booklets and answer sheets?
In such cases, copyright permission is needed.
Instructors may place on reserve without copyright restriction digital and photocopies of works that are not copyrighted or that are exempt for instructional use such as:
- U.S. Government publications. However, some National Technical Information Service Publications less than 5 years old require copyright clearance. Some government publications (including works prepared by outside authors on contract) contain copyrighted materials that require permission.
- The opinions of state courts. However, state government works may require copyright clearance.
- Published works whose copyrights have expired. See: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States for a chart of copyright and treaty date terms when works pass into the public domain, Cornell, Jan. 2012.
- Writings that have never been copyrighted. However, the absence of a copyright notice on the item will not be taken to mean that the work is not protected by copyright. Unpublished works (post 1978) are protected by copyright.
- Journals and other publications that permit reproduction of their articles for instructional purposes. Such photocopies should be submitted with a copy of the statement of exemption from the publisher.
Copies of copyrighted materials may be placed on reserve in excess of the fair use guidelines provided the permission of the copyright owner has been secured.
- The instructor must obtain explicit permission. The instructor
submit along with the copies to be placed on reserves a signed Course
Reserve Request Form indicating that copyright permission has been
- If there is not enough time to secure permission from the copyright owner, the Libraries will place the materials on reserve for no more than 2 consecutive semesters while the instructor seeks permission. Submission for subsequent semesters without permission needs to be discussed with a reserve coordinator.
- Send a written request (see sample
letter) to the publisher or copyright owner along with a self-addressed
- Include the following information:
- Full citation identifying materials: to include segment information such as pages to be copied, section, or chapters.
- Information about material use such as:
dates of use; number of copies needed; whether allowing printing, downloading and photocopying by students; whether posted on the Internet; access restrictions; information on fees charged for use.
- Your contact information: return address, telephone number, and fax number.
Permission for classroom and reserve use is sometimes granted free of charge while at other times there may be a fee.
If you received permission orally:
- Record the permission in details.
- Document the conversation carefully.
- Send a confirmation letter to the copyright owner, asking him/her to initial it and return it to you if it accurately states your agreement.