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Copyright, Fair Use & File Sharing: Reserves


What items may be placed on reserve in the library?

Materials placed on reserve will be for non-commercial, educational use by the students. Reserve items should not replace the purchase of textbooks or other course material. Instructors should limit the reserve copy to a small portion of the entire work. The following items are considered to be within fair use: 

  • An article from a journal  
  • A chapter, or other small excerpt from a book  
  • Books that are owned by the university or the individual instructor  
  • Videos that are owned by the university or individual instructor  
  • Software that is owned by the university or individual instructor  

When possible, the materials used for reserve will be purchased or licensed by the library. 

May items be placed on reserve electronically (Blackboard)?

As a rule, single articles or short book excerpts may be placed on reserve on Blackboard with the understanding that access to the Blackboard course is restricted to only those enrolled in the course and the material is not intended to be used more than one semester. For more information see Using Electronic Reserves: Guidelines and Best Practices for Copyright Compliance.

May I copy or link to online databases and electronic journals?

The vast majority of these products are available to Alvernia under the terms of license agreements. These contracts determine how each electronic journal or database can be used. License terms override copyright law where they differ. Generally, it is acceptable to use one article per issue and to put it on electronic reserve for only one semester. Using more than one article per issue, or using an article for more than one semester, would require permission from the publisher. Linking to a database or an e-journal from a course page is generally allowed and is the recommended method for providing online information content. EbscoHost, JStor and others of our licensed databases often provide a “persistent link” or a “stable URL” which you may copy and paste onto your course page which will allow the student to access the article directly.  
Saving the content (even a single article) from a database or an e-journal and reposting it in an open access (i.e. non-password-controlled) environment which can be accessed by those not in the class is prohibited. Reposting even in a password controlled environment may or may not be allowed. Contact the Library Director to help you determine whether the e-journal or database from which you wish to post content allows it.

How many times may I place an item on reserve?

  • Materials owned by the library – If the library owns a copy of the book or journal, then there is not a limit on the number of times the item may be placed on reserve.  
  • Materials not owned by the library - If you’re using a reserve reading for multiple semesters or for multiple classes, that is considered to be a factor weighing against fair use. According to the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying, copying shall not “be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.” This restriction has been interpreted in different ways. Some interpret it to mean that an instructor must get permission to use the same reserve reading in consecutive semesters. Others believe that permission must be sought for the second instance an item is placed on reserve no matter when it occurs.

Who determines if a reserve reading is within fair use?

Decisions on copyright and fair use rest with the individual responsible for the relevant activity. In this case, it is the instructor. However, the library reserves the right not to place an item on reserve if they judge that the nature, scope, or extent of the copied material is beyond the reasonable limits of fair use. In order to make this determination, full bibliographic information (author, title, journal title or book publisher, and date) must accompany the reserve request.

What if a reserve items falls outside of fair use?

  • Instructors who use multiple readings for multiple courses and/or for multiple semesters should assemble a course packet through the University Bookstore.  Please allow 2 months for the packet to be completed.  
  • The library can request permission from the Copyright Clearance Center and the cost will be billed to the department.