Skip to Content
Other pages in this section:
Guide to Placing Material on Reserve
Getting Copyright Permission
Confidentiality Policy
Form for Placing Book Reserves
Form for Placing Media Reserves
Form for Requesting Copyright Permission


Faculty are responsible for complying with copyright law for their reserve materials. Items that fall under fair use as well as those that are not covered by copyright, as explained below, may be placed on reserve without obtaining copyright permission or paying copyright royalties. Library staff will not place any items reserve that they believe are not in compliance with copyright law.

Library Collections

The collections of Thomas Library are purchased for the nonprofit educational use of students and faculty. All library materials are acquired with the understanding that there will be multiple uses of a limited number of purchased copies. Libraries frequently pay a premium institutional subscription price for journals that is many times the individual subscription price for the purpose of supporting multiple academic users.

Fair Use

The United States Copyright Act of 1976 (§107) expressly permits the making of multiple copies for classroom use. Such classroom copying is one examples of a use that 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 four factors:

  1. The purpose or 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
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Thomas Library reserves services are used solely for non-profit educational purposes. Copies may be made for reserve without securing copyright permission if the copying is related directly to the educational objectives of a specific course and if the copyrighted material is limited to brief works, or brief excerpts from longer works. Examples include a single chapter from a book, a single article from a journal, or unrelated news articles.

Public Domain Materials

Many materials, such as government documents and older publications, are in the public domain and not protected by copyright. Items in both of these categories may be photocopied for reserve without permission. To determine if your needed material is in this category, refer to "When Works Pass into the Public Domain" on the University of North Carolina's website:

When are Permissions or Fees Required?

Faculty must obtain permission or pay appropriate royalty fees in order to place the following types of materials on reserve:

  • Originals or photocopies of standardized tests, exercises, or workbooks.
  • Photocopies or digitized copies of an entire book or musical score, or substantial portions of a book or score.

General Guidelines for Print Reserves

All materials placed on print reserve will be at the initiative of faculty for the non-commercial, educational usage of students.

  • The copyright notice, "The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials.
  • Whenever possible, materials to be used for print reserve will be those purchased or licensed by the library.
  • The library will not place materials on reserve without permission if the nature, scope, or extent of copying is judged by the library to exceed the reasonable limits of fair use. Faculty must obtain permission or pay appropriate royalties in order to place copies of longer works (or substantial portions of longer works), such as complete books and performance scores.
  • Users may make one copy for private study, personal reading, research, scholarship, or education.
  • A faculty member's use of reserve material for a second or subsequent semester is allowed, provided that fair use still applies.

General Guidelines for Media Reserve

Video programs must be legitimately acquired by purchase/lease from licensed distributors or from the copyright holder. A program recorded "off-air" by Audio Visual Services staff can also be placed on reserve if permission of the copyright holder has been received. If permission is not available, the item may still be placed on reserve if the following conditions are met:

  • The program, when broadcast, was available by open-air distribution, not just through cable system sources; that is, it could be picked up by a non-cable television set (using "rabbit ear" antenna) at the time of recording. Programs from cable sources, such as HBO, A&E, etc., are not considered "off-air" and must be licensed.
  • The period of reserve will not exceed 10 "school days" past the recording date, as permitted by the Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes (copy available at Circulation and Audio Visual Departments).

General guidelines for Software Reserve:

Software placed on reserve must be first approved by the Director of Computing in order to verify license rights.

Further Information

For questions concerning Thomas Library's copyright policy contact Doug Lehman ( or 937 327-7016).

Back to top