Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright and Fair Use for Reserves

The guidelines for all reserves, including electronic reserves, are based on the provisions of fair use of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Section 107 of the Copyright Act permits the making of multiple copies for classroom use. Such educational copying is one of the six examples of uses which do not require the payment of a royalty or the permission of the copyright owners provided that the circumstances of the use are fair as assessed by the four factors in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, the text of which follows:

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use in copies, phonographic records or by any other means specified by the 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 fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for and value of the copyrighted work

The collections of the Texas A&M University Libraries are purchased by the university for the nonprofit educational use of students and instructors. All library materials are acquired with the understanding that there will be multiple uses of a limited number of copies. The libraries frequently pay a premium institutional subscription price for journals, which is many times the individual subscription price, for the privilege of supporting multiple academic users. The sole purpose of the Electronic Reserve System will be to facilitate the making of multiple copies for classroom use by students. Considered within this context, electronic reserve services can be developed by the Texas A&M University Libraries in a manner that conforms with the fair use provisions of the copyright law.

At the request of an instructor, photocopies of articles or chapters of books may be placed on reserve in the library. Under the fair use guidelines, photocopies of these materials may be made without requiring permission from the copyright owner. One copy per 10-15 students is the recommended number. Materials that have been photocopied by the library for the specific purpose of being placed on reserve will be kept for a specific period of time and will eventually be destroyed.

No copyright permission needed for:

  • Exams/quizzes
  • Lecture notes
  • Government publications
  • Single article from a journal issue
  • One chapter from a book

The electronic copying and scanning of copyright-protected works for library reserves services and distance learning are unsettled areas of the law which may be addressed by the Supreme Court or in future versions of the copyright law. The Texas A&M University Libraries will continually monitor legal developments which may affect the fair use analysis of electronic reserve services to ensure that library services are in compliance with the letter and spirit of the United States Copyright Law.