Copyright for Course Reserves

Fair Use

The policy governing Reserve at the University of Chicago Library is based on the United States Copyright Act of 1976. 17 USC § 107 establishes the principle, commonly called "fair use," that the reproduction of copyright works for certain limited, educational purposes, does not constitute copyright infringement.

There are four factors in determining fair use:

  1. Purpose: The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature, or is for nonprofit education purposes.
  2. Nature: The nature of the copyrighted work.
  3. Amount: The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  4. Effect: The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

For more information, please visit the Copyright Information Center.

Library Policies for Reserve

After review with the University's Office of Legal Counsel, the following policies were initiated by the Library:

  • Single copies (photocopies or scans for electronic reserves) may be produced by the Library at its discretion for Library course reserves from materials in its collections or owned by faculty.
  • Single copies of copyrighted materials made by or for an instructor for use in teaching will be accepted for Library course reserve.
  • Multiple copies of copyrighted material will not be produced or accepted by the Library for course reserve without first having written permission from the copyright holder or having purchased those copies from the copyright holder or publisher.
  • When producing copies for Library course reserve Library personnel will limit photocopying or scanning to:
    • a chapter or two from a book (but no more than 20% of the entire book)
    • an article or two from a periodical or newspaper (but no more than 20% of a single issue)
  • Whenever possible, materials to be copied or scanned for electronic reserves will be purchased by the Library, if not already owned.
  • Copyright acceptance notice will appear on the screen in the electronic reserves system prior to the download of all materials scanned by the Library for electronic reserve.

Please note that copyright law is subject to change, and the Library may have to revise its copyright policies without notice to comply with new laws or rulings. The University of Chicago Library monitors legal developments which may affect the fair use analysis of electronic reserves to ensure that Library services comply with U.S. Copyright Law.

Questions or comments about Library copyright policies should be sent to