Reserves and electronic reserves (e-reserves) provide a way for
instructors to share content with students. This content often
includes class notes along with copyrighted materials such as
books, book chapters, journal articles and other works purchased
by your institution's library. With e-reserves content is posted
electronically and available to students online.
Traditional Paper Reserves
Materials placed on traditional reserve are available to students
in paper form at the institution's library. Your librarian can
place purchased materials on reserve without obtaining copyright
permission. However, making multiple copies of these materials
and placing those copies on reserve does require copyright permission,
in most cases.
While the Copyright Act does not specifically address library
reserves, standards do exist for paper-based reserves. These standards
are based on the Copyright Act's fair use provision. When evaluating
copyright requirements for library reserves weigh the fair
use factors as they apply to your particular situation.
The American Library Association (ALA) has endorsed
the following standards for sharing copyrighted material through
- The amount of material should be reasonable in relation to
the total amount of material assigned for one term of a course,
taking into account the nature of the course, its subject matter
and level. See 17 U.S.C. § 107(1) and (3).
- The number of copies should be reasonable in light of the
number of students enrolled, the difficulty and timing of assignments,
and the number of other courses which may assign the same materials.
See 17 U.S.C. § 107(1) and (3).
- The material should contain a notice of copyright. See 17
U.S.C. § 401.
- The effect of photocopying the material should not be detrimental
to the market for the work. (In general, the library should
own at least one copy of the work.) See 17 U.S.C. § 107(4).
Unless it is covered by fair use, public domain or another specific
copyright exception, anything posted to an electronic environment
requires copyright permission prior to posting. The "first
use is free" standard invoked by many libraries is not part
of the Copyright Act or any subsequent rulings or provisions.
There are no widely accepted standards for e-reserves, although
the 1996 Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) endeavored to establish
some. The Association of American Publishers' (AAP) Frequently
Asked Questions on E-Reserves and Recommendations
for Applying Fair Use in the Development of Electronic Reserves
Systems—developed by several leading U.S. Library Associations—represent
two of many different answers to the question of "how should
academic institutions address e-reserves?"
In short, both groups recommend that academic institutions explore
a range of e-reserve practices and select a combination that illustrates
respect for the law and the institution's overall position on
copyright rights. When evaluating practices, the institution should
also consider its dual role as both a copyright holder and a user
of others' copyrighted works. Whatever guidelines your institution
chooses to adopt, Copyright Clearance Center's compliance
solutions provide quick and easy copyright permission, ensuring
the lawful use of content in e-reserves and other types of use.
Following is a summary of e-reserve policies
followed by many academic institutions possessing comprehensive
- E-reserve materials should be limited to small portions—usually
single articles or chapters, or less—of copyrighted works.
- E-reserves should not be used as a substitute for the purchase
of books or subscriptions, or other materials required for educational
- In a situation where a coursepack would require copyright
permission, e-reserves in the same context (instructor, course)
would also require copyright permission.
- If the material does not pass the fair use test in paper,
it will not pass the fair use test in electronic format.
- When switching from paper use to electronic use permission
must be obtained for the material in the new format.
- Copies of materials placed on e-reserve should be made from
originals—either printed materials or authorized copies—owned
by the institution or instructor.
- E-reserves should be accessible (by password or other control)
only by the students in a single class, faculty and staff associated
with the class, and the administrator or IT person responsible
for maintaining e-reserves.
- E-reserves for a particular class should be taken down or
made inaccessible at the end of that term of the class.
- Materials on e-reserve should contain both the copyright
notice from, and a complete citation to, the original material.
- Digital licenses between content providers and academic institutions
must be carefully reviewed to determine the extent material
may be used in an e-reserve context.