Copyright Guidance and Resources

Educators and library staff must follow the copyright law (Title 17 of the U.S. Code when using materials (print, media and electronic resources) in the classroom and putting materials on reserve in the library. The copyright law is complex and there are several resources available for guidance.

Reserve Materials and Copyright

U.S. Copyright law is a complex set of legal guidelines enacted to protect the rights of the author of an original work (Title 17, United States Code). Everything published today, with the exception of materials produced by the United States Government, is protected under this broad umbrella of copyright law. Fair Use, on the other hand, is a not a law but rather a nebulous set of guidelines created to address the unique needs of libraries and their users while still affording the copyright holder a measure of protection. The following is an attempt to briefly outline what is allowed and disallowed under the Fair Use Guidelines as they pertain to reserve materials. The guidelines that follow should serve as a guide and should not be viewed as a comprehensive interpretation of the law.

102. Subject matter of copyright: In general

(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

  1. literary works;
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words;
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works;
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  7. sound recordings; and
  8. architectural works.

(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phono records or by any other means specified by that section, 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.

Guidelines for Reserve Materials at Lynchburg College

The guidelines for reserve materials, which follow, were created in a continuing effort to insure that the Library complies with the Fair Use provisions of Federal Copyright law (Title 17, Section 107). At the request of a faculty member, the circulation supervisor may place course-related materials on reserve including excerpts from copyrighted works and original materials (books, videos, etc.). Original works, those which have not been copied, including both library-owned or personal copies, may be placed on reserve for as long as necessary. Without exception, rented videocassettes cannot be placed on reserve. The following chart denotes what may and may not be placed on reserve and when permission needs to be obtained. Please keep in mind that these are just guidelines and apply only to reserve materials; items for classroom use are governed by a lengtheir, yet more liberal, set of rules.

Guidelines for Photocopied Materials on Reserve

Unrestricted Copying

  • Any work published prior to 1989 that does not contain a notice of copyright.
    A notice of copyright consists of the copyright symbol or the word “copyright,” plus the first year of publication and the name of the copyright owner.
  • Published works whose copyrights have expired (generally 75 prior to current year).
  • U.S. Federal Government Publications, as long as they are published by the GPO.
  • Any C-Span broadcast.

No Permission Needed

  • For one term only, single copies of
    • one chapter from a book
    • one article from a periodical or newspaper
    • one short story, essay, or poem
    • one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from one book or periodical

    The amount of the material should be reasonable in relation to the total amount of the material assigned for one term of a course.

  • Multiple copies may be accepted for large classes. The number of copies must be proportional to the number students within the class.

You Must Have Permission

  • Coursepacks -- Any copied material which is created to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective works.
    Without permission, this type of copying is illegal whether the copies are individual or are accumulated (i.e. coursepacks)
  • Any copying that is done to substitute for the purchase of a book or periodical.
  • Any copied material by the same teacher from term to term.

Required Documentation

All materials being placed on reserve must have a photocopy of the original copyright notice. The notice for a book is generally located within the first few pages. The copyright notice in a journal is located in one of two areas. For newer journals the copyright notice is likely to be found on the first page of the article. For older articles the notice is located within the first few pages along with the publishing information. Examples of copyright notices found in both journals and monographs are located at the end of this document.

Some current materials and many older journals do not bear the telltale ã. For these items we will have a stamp available. The stamp will only be used as a last resort. Current law is quite clear that all materials which bear a copyright notice must include this notice when being reproduced.

If it is necessary to use a material in a manner falling outside the protection of Fair Use, permission from the copyright holder must be sought and granted. If permission is granted by the copyright holder, a professor may disregard any of the above (i.e. permission is sought and granted to place an article on permanent reserve). Professors are responsible for providing the original copyright notice; obtaining permission; paying all fees; and supplying the library with a copy of the written permission. Any materials lacking a copyright statement and permission, for instances when seeking permission is necessary, will not be permitted to be placed on reserve and will be returned. Obtaining permission for items which fall outside the protection of Fair Use is relatively straightforward. There can be, however, a significant time delay between requesting permission and obtaining it. Please bear this in mind when selecting course materials for reserve. The Copyright Clearing Center,, is a good starting point for those seeking copyright permission for journal articles. The copyright owner for books is usually located within the first few pages. While most works include the indicative ©, even those without are still protected by law. It is also important to remember that the owners of copyright are under no obligation to grant permission or even respond to requests.

On-Campus Contacts

Copyright is a complex and sometimes frustrating issue. If you have questions or concerns about how to apply these guidelines, please do not hesitate to contact the library.

Phone: 544-8205

Interlibrary Loan:
Phone: 544-8399

Example: copyright notice from a book

Example: copyright notice from a collection of articles

Example: copyright notice from a journal

Copyright Permission Letter

Whenever a faculty or staff member wishes to use someone else's work which falls outside the Fair Use guidelines, permission must be obtained from the owner of the copyright or evidence must be provided that the materials are in the public domain.

The form below may be copied and pasted into an e-mail message, or printed and faxed, or printed and mailed to the owner of the site and/or owner of the copyright. An emailed, faxed, or mailed reply which answers all questions fully and grants permission should be received for each request for permission to use that is sent. Once the permission form is received by the faculty or staff member, a copy of the permission form must be provided to the circulation supervisor

Request for Permission to Use

Permissions Department Date:
Company Name:
City, State, Zip Code:
Dear Reader:
This letter is a request for permission to duplicate/use for the following:
Material to be duplicated: copy enclosed
Manner of distribution:
Type of reproduction:
Purpose of use/reproduction: inclusion in (specify)
A self-addressed, stamped envelope is enclosed for your convenience.
Please respond.

School Name:
City, State, Zip Code:
E-mail Address:



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