Course Reserves Copyright Policy

Instructors are responsible for fair use of copyrighted reserves materials and/or ensuring that they have appropriate copyright permissions.

Fair Use

Chapter 1, Section 107 of the Copyright Act states:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 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 The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.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 four factors above are used by the courts to determine Fair Use and indicate that photocopying is generally permissible for works that are used for educational purposes; that are unpublished or factual or descriptive in nature; that are small parts or noncritical parts of a complete work; and that have a small effect on the marketability of the original work. Please note: none of the four factors is conclusive. The weight given to each one varies from case to case.

For complete information on Copyright please visit the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Faculty members who are unsure about what constitutes permissible copying, may consult the Guidelines for Classroom Copying of Books and Periodicals agreed to by the Association of American Publishers and The Author's League of America and explained by the University of Texas Libraries. These guidelines set minimum standards for meeting the copyright law requirements.

Guidelines by Material Type

Whole Books

There are no copyright restrictions for the use of whole books owned by the Library or the instructor. Copyright law applies only to those parts of a book that are reproduced (copied) for class use.

Items borrowed through Summit or Interlibrary Loan (ILL) cannot be placed on reserve.

Public Domain Materials

In general, copyright restrictions for educational use do not apply on works that fall under the definition of "public domain" such as:

  • Unpublished works
  • Published works with expired copyright, such as publications more than 75 years old
  • U.S. Government publications.

Course Packs

The library will accept up to two copies of a COCC bookstore-prepared course pack, but will not accept anthologies of readings prepared by the instructor him/herself, unless there is proof of Copyright permission.

Other materials not accepted for Course Reserves include photocopies of consumable materials (workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, etc.) or journal articles which have been included in a coursepack that students are expected to purchase.

Copies of Articles or Chapters

Copied materials placed on reserve must be owned by the faculty submitting them or by the Library. If an original is not owned by the instructor or the Library, the instructor is responsible for obtaining copyright permission.

The first use of a copied material by a particular instructor for a particular course is generally treated as "fair use." Any subsequent use of this same material by that same instructor for that same course requires permission from the copyright holder.

The amount of material copied should be limited to items such as: single articles or chapters of books; a short story, short essay, or short poem; charts, graphs, and illustrations, or other similar small parts of a work. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one term.

The copyrighted material should contain a copyright notice along with a full citation and attributions to the original source.

Student Work

Student work from current or past terms is protected under federal law, FERPA (Family Educational Right to Privacy Act), and college policy. Instructors who place on reserve originals or copies of student work, including video or audio cassettes of student performances, with personally identifying material on them (e.g.; names, grades, images), must secure a written permission from that student. If the name, grade, or image appears on the work, instructors should document that the student has been made aware of this before he/she signed the permission statement. Removing names or other identifiers from student work does not relieve the instructor from copyright responsibility; instructors should always obtain the student's permission.

See a problem on this page? Report it through the Library Website Feedback Form.