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Copyright on Campus

For a short primer on copyright law and academic institutions, watch this 6 minute video:

Reserves and Copyright

The Reserves Department bases its decisions to place items on reserve in copyright law, specifically the Doctrine of First Sale and the Fair Use Provision (see below). According to the doctrine of first sale, the library can accept for reserve status any item that has been legally purchased, including professors' personal copies and videos or DVDs rented from a video rental outlet that legally purchased the material in question. In the latter case, the professor accepts all responsibility for any late fees that may be incurred. Illegally acquired copies and recordings taped off-air will not be accepted for reserve status. In the case of photocopies and other reproductions, including digital copies, the library will place materials on reserve that fall within the fair use provision. These include items that are of an educational nature which are intended for non-profit educational use, of which a fair portion is used.

See specific copyright policies for Traditional Reserves.

First Sale Doctrine

The First Sale Doctrine, found in Section 109 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C., permits libraries to loan legally purchased materials.

Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use

The four factors to determine fair use, found in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C., are as follows:

(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The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Performance of Media Materials

The Media Department bases its public performance policy on the US Copyright law. According to copyright law, no copyrighted performance may be publicly shown without obtaining permission of the copyright holder, except in certain cases, as stated below.

Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays

This provision, found in Section 110 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. states that notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following is not an infringement of copyright:

Performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made; Public performance where it meets the above provision is acceptable. Thus, students who are using a performance assigned for a class may use the performance in the carrels provided for individual viewing, or a small group of students from the same class may use the performance together in a group study room.

In addition to section 110, public performance or display of a copyrighted work must fall within the fair use guidelines listed above. Thus, entertainment-oriented recordings that are not assigned as a part of course study may not be viewed within the library, but must be checked out and viewed in the patron's private quarters instead. The library will never publicly perform a work for a group of people not enrolled in a course for which the work is assigned. The library will never charge admission to perform a work to any group, without first clearing the necessary rights. Rights for programs which the library lends to the Media Center to be streamed online are cleared by the Media Center, and fair use and performance guidelines are observed where applicable.

Reproductions for Persons With Disabilities

Limitations on Exclusive Rights: reproduction for blind or other people with disabilities.

This provision, found in section 121 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C., States that:

(A) Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 710, it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or to distribute copies or phonorecords of a previously published, nondramatic literary work if such copies or phonorecords are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.


(1) Copies or phonorecords to which this section applies shall-

(a) not be reproduced or distributed in a format other than a specialized format exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities;

(b) bear a notice that any further reproduction or distribution in a format other than a specialized format is an infringement; and

(c) include a copyright notice identifying the copyright owner and the date of the original publication.

(2) The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to standardized, secure, or norm-referenced tests and related testing material, or to computer programs, except the portions thereof that are in conventional human language (including descriptions of pictorial works) and displayed to users in the ordinary course of using the computer programs.

(C) For purposes of this section, the term-

(1) "authorized entity" means a nonprofit organization or a governmental agency that has a primary mission to provide specialized services relating to training, education, or adaptive reading or information access needs of blind or other persons with disabilities;

(2) "specialized formats" means Braille, audio, or digital text which is exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.

The ADA has not been construed to require that libraries or publishers make every book available to the blind. The foregoing provision suggests that commercial publishers are not themselves required to publish in formats accessible to the blind under Title III of the ADA, but organizations can record books for the blind without paying a royalty. There have been cases involving access to information provided by state and local government agencies, including schools and libraries, under Title II of the ADA, but the requirement is limited by the ADA provision that it does not require accommodations that would impose an undue burden in terms of expense. While schools probably have to make required texts available in accessible formats, and libraries generally probably have to have some books on hand in audio or Braille formats, they can also rely on filling special requests for available materials to satisfy the ADA.