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Home > Library Services > Course Reserves > Policy for placing copyrighted materials on course reserves

Policy for placing copyrighted materials on course reserves

Course Reserve | Sample Copyright Permission Letter


  • Materials included in course reserves need to include appropriate citations or attributions to their sources. The original source of the material must be owned by the instructor teaching the course or the Sacramento State University Library. The copyright statement must either accompany or be placed on the photocopy before being made available through reserves.
  • In accordance with fair use, copyrighted materials supplied by faculty members will be placed on course reserves for one semester without obtaining permission. Thereafter, course reserves will not include any copyrighted material unless the faculty member has obtained official permission to use the copy from the authorized owner. However, material may be retained while permission is being sought or until the next academic term in which the material might be used, but in no event for more than three calendar years, including the year in which the materials are last used. A copy of the letter asking for permission must be given to User Services once the letter has been sent to the appropriate party. When permission has been granted, a copy of the letter granting permission must be submitted to User Services. Note: the faculty member is responsible for obtaining permission. A Sample Letter is available to faculty from the Course Reserves homepage.
  • The total amount of material included in course reserves for a specific course as a matter of fair use should be a small proportion of the total assigned reading for a particular course. Not more than one short poem, story, essay or excerpt (10% or less from a book) may be copied from the same author, nor more than three articles from the same periodical volume or anthology during one class term. There shall be no scanning of or from copyrighted works intended to be consumable in the course of study or of teaching, unless permission has been granted from the copyright holder. Consumable items might include workbooks, exercises, standardized test booklets, and the like.
  • Short-term access to materials included on course reserves in previous academic terms may be provided to students who have not completed the course.
  • In accordance with fair use (Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act), course reserves items will display the following notice:

WARNING CONCERNING COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS. The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproduction of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of the specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. If electronic transmission of reserve material issued for purposes in excess of what constitutes ‘fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.”


The CSUS Library will assess fair use in the course reserve environment in the following manner:

First factor: The character of the use.

  • Libraries implement course reserves systems in support of non-profit education.

Second factor: The nature of the work to be used.

  • course reserve systems include text materials, both factual and creative.
  • They also serve the interests of faculty and students who study music, film, art, and images.

  • Librarians take the character of the materials into consideration in the overall balancing of interests.

Third factor: The amount used.

  • User Services will consider the relationship of the amount used to the whole of the copyright owners work.

  • Because the amount that a faculty member assigns depends on many factors, such as relevance to the teaching objective and the overall amount of material assigned, User Services may also consider whether the amount, even the entire work, is appropriate to support the lesson or make the point.

Fourth factor: The effect of the use on the market for or value of the work.

  • Many libraries limit course reserves access to students within the institution or within a particular class or classes. Many use technology to restrict and/or block access to help ensure that only registered students access the content.

  • Libraries generally terminate student access at the end of a relevant term (semester, quarter, or year) or after the student has completed the course.
  • Many course reserves systems include core and supplemental materials. Limiting course reserves solely to supplemental readings is not necessary since potential harm to the market is considered regardless of the status of the material.

  • Libraries may determine that if the first three factors show that a use is clearly fair, the fourth factor does not weigh as heavily.

About Course Readers

A single copy or multiple copies of “readers”, compiled by assembling photocopies from a number of sources, will be placed on reserves when evidence of permission or a statement of compliance as noted above is supplied along with the item.

About E-Reserves

  • E-Reserves are limited to students registered in the course for which the items have been placed on reserve and to instructors and the staff responsible for the course or the electronic system.

  • Items may be retrieved by course number or instructor name but not by author or title of the work.

  • Access is limited to enrolled students or appropriate staff or faculty.