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Copyright 101: Students & Educators

Information on Copyright laws and Fair Use guideliines

Course Reserves

The following is an excerpt from Complete Copyright for K–12 Librarians and Educators by Carrie Russell (p. 138). Where it says "University [College]" insert Shoreline Community College.

At the request of a faculty member, a library may photocopy and place on reserve excerpts from copyrighted works in its collection in accordance with guidelines similar to those governing formal classroom distribution for face-to-face teaching [refer to the Books, Articles & Images tab]...This University [College] believes that these guidelines apply to the library reserve shelf to the extent it functions as an extension of classroom readings or reflects an individual student’s right to photocopy for his personal scholastic use under the doctrine of fair use. In general, librarians may photocopy materials for reserve room use for the convenience of students both in preparing class assignments and in pursuing informal educational activities which higher education requires, such as advanced independent study and research.

If the request calls for only one copy to be placed on reserve, the library may photocopy an entire article, or an entire chapter from a book, or an entire poem. Requests for multiple copies on reserve should meet the following guidelines:

1. the amount of material should be reasonable in relation to the total amount of material assigned for one term of a course taking into account the nature of the course, its subject matter and level, 17 U.S.C. § 107(1) and (3);
2. the number of copies should be reasonable in light of the number of students enrolled, the difficulty and timing of assignments, and the number of other courses which may assign the same material, 17 U.S.C. § 107(1) and (3);
3. the material should contain a notice of copyright, see 17 U.S.C. § 401;
4. the effect of photocopying the material should not be detrimental to the market for the work. (In general, the library should own at least one copy of the work.) 17 U.S.C. § 107(4)

Fair Use Act

Fair Use Law can be found in section 107 of the Copyright Act. It lays out in very broad terms the conditions under which it is permissible to use copyright protected materials without getting permission from the author or creator of the work.

The following excerpt are reprinted from the U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index: More Information on Fair Use.

[T]he fair use of a copyrighted work...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 a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(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.

**There is a part of the copyright law (Section 504(c)(2)) that protects people operating under the reasonable assumption that they were operating under Fair Use. In order to qualify you need to be sure that you have carefully considered the criteria for fair use. When considering using copyright protected materials there are four criteria that need to be taken into consideration.

For further reading, refer to the SCC Copyright Information and Assistance.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Using the Copyrighted Work

1. Why do I need to use this copyrighted work?

Refer to what Fair Use defines as not a violation of copyright law: "...purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research..."

2. What is the nature of the work?

This refers to the nature of the original work. Was it, for example, published or unpublished? Was it fiction, non-fiction or personal expression? Fair use favors published, factual work over dramatic works or works of personal expression. However, if the purpose and character of use is non-profit public education, even dramatic works and works of personal expression can fall into the fair use arena. In addition, the work being used must be from a legally obtained copy. 

3. How much of the work is needed?

Key to this criterion is the amount of the portion used in relation to the entire work. This is why specific numbers and percentages are difficult to assign. For example, 10 pages of a 270-page novel is far different from 10 pages of a 20-page journal article. This criterion also considers the quality or amount of key information used. Using key plot scenes from a novel can weigh against fair use. However, as mentioned above, if the purpose is non-profit education or scholarly research, then in some cases using an entire work is considered fair use.

4. How will the use of the work affect its market value?

Several factors come into play here. For example, is the work available for sale? How widespread is the use? How long or how often will the work be used? Does this use affect the copyright owner's ability to collect royalties?