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General Information

For a thorough review of copyright basics and frequently asked questions, visit the  UK Copyright Center.

Additional helpful resources:

Public Domain

Exceptions to these limits include titles in the public domain, government documents, and certain open access works.

  • Public domain titles are those for which copyright protection has expired, been explicitly waived by the work’s creator, or is not allowed (as with many government documents).
  • Government publications created by federal employees in the course of their work are considered in the public domain in the US. Publications from many non-US governments are also freely available for reuse.
  • Certain open access works may have fewer limits on reuse. Many open access works are still governed by publisher restrictions, and their terms of use reflect the terms of use for licensed resources. Others are governed by Creative Commons licenses, which allow for broader reuse. Some Creative Commons licenses allow for reusing the original work on the broadest of terms, as long as the original creator is credited. Other Creative Commons licenses only allow for downloading and sharing the work non-commercially, and disallow any changes to the original work. There are other Creative Commons licenses that fall between these two extremes. If a work is open access, double-check how it may be reused, or contact the Electronic Resources Department for assistance.

Please direct any questions about the appropriate use of licensed information resources to

Copyright for Course Reserves

UK Libraries adheres to copyright law and Fair Use Guidelines when placing materials on course reserve. If you want to use photocopies or digital scans of copyrighted materials in your courses you may need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. 

Do I need to obtain copyright permissions for my course reserve materials?

Some copyrighted material included in course reserves is covered by the fair use provisions of the US Copyright Act (Section 107).

Generally, copyright permissions for photocopied or scanned material are required if:

  • Material is used for longer than one semester
  • You are photocopying or scanning more than 10% of a book, or more than one article from a journal issue
  • More than 12 items are placed on reserve

Copyright permissions are not required if:

  • Materials are in the public domain
  • Materials are accessible via the E-Journals Database
  • Materials are owned by the library or the instructor

If the article you would like to reserve is available electronically through UK Libraries, permission has already been obtained by the library.

No permissions are required to place the library’s copy of a book or journal or your own personal copy of a book or journal on physical reserve.

If the library does not own a book that you would like to use extensively in the future, we will be happy to order a copy if possible.

In what situations will UK Libraries obtain copyright permissions?

The library will obtain copyright permissions for reserve items that are available in the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). The CCC is a US-based company that licenses copyrighted material on behalf of authors for corporate and academic users. These permissions must be purchased, and the library will pay up to $50 per course.

The library must pay copyright permissions for each student per reading placed on electronic reserve and for each duplicate copy of a reading placed on paper reserves, and do so for each semester that the material is used. To reduce costs:

  • Place only required readings on reserve
  • Allow the library to place hard copies of books on paper reserve, rather than scans or photocopies, which eliminates the need to obtain copyright permission

In order for the library to provide these copyright services, instructors placing photocopied or scanned material on reserve must submit materials at least three weeks prior to their intended use and provide complete citation information for every item.

When must the instructor obtain copyright permissions?

The instructor must obtain copyright for photocopied or scanned items that are not available via the CCC, or for any permissions obtained by the library that exceed the $50 cost limitation.

To obtain copyright permissions, contact the publisher and use this sample form.

When asking for copyright permission, explain that the materials will be used for course reserves and ask for use of the item for the longest time period possible. Obtaining permissions can be a lengthy process, so it is best to begin this process a semester in advance when possible.

Keep records of granted permissions for the duration of the use of the materials. The library may request to view permissions obtained by the instructor.

Where can I find information on copyright?

Find authoritative and up-to-date copyright information via U.S. Copyright Office circulars. Pertinent circulars include:

For clarification on questions related to copyright law, please contact the Office of Legal Counsel.

To find information about copyright ownership by individual authors, visit the Authors Registry.

Please direct questions about course reserves and obtaining copyright permissions to