Course Reserves

Copyright guidelines

All reserve materials are processed in compliance with the fair use provisions of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. The principle of “fair use” is established in 17 USC Section 107. According to this principle, the reproduction of copyrighted works for certain limited, educational purposes does not constitute copyright infringement. The following four factors are considered in the determination of fair use:

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 The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Binghamton University Libraries applies a fair use standard equal to 10% of a book with less than ten chapters, or of a book that is not divided into chapters, or no more than one chapter or its equivalent in a book of more than ten chapters. This is in accordance with precedent set in Cambridge University Press v. Georgia State University, Case 1:08-cv-01425-OD (N.D. Ga., May 11, 2012).

Frequently Asked Questions

Instructors are responsible for ensuring any materials used for instruction are used in a manner that is compliant with copyright law.

Columbia University Libraries have developed a checklist to help determine compliance. You may access it here. Keep in mind, however, that while checklists are intended to help instructors to make fair use decisions, they do not insulate from liability.

No. Scanning and posting an entire book would not be in compliance with fair use. The only time it might be possible to scan and post and entire book is if the book is in the public domain.

The Binghamton University Libraries' Reserves Department will scan and post:

  • Up to 10% of a book with less than ten chapters.
  • Up to 10% of a book that is not divided into chapters.
  • No more than one chapter (or its equivalent) in a book of more than ten chapters.

Materials in the public domain are not protected by copyright laws. The public may use any part of these works without obtaining permission. A creative work can fall into the public domain for a variety of reasons, one of which is that the copyright on the work has expired. Sometimes an author will deliberately place a work in the public domain.

Cornell University has developed a chart for determining if a work has fallen into the public domain.

No. You may not place workbooks or other consumables on reserve. Placing these items on reserve would violate the tenet of fair use prohibiting copying that is detrimental to the market value of a publication that is protected by copyright.