What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the Congress of the United States to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Copyright Law was first enacted in May 1790. The original law has been revised several times since then with the fourth general revision signed into law in 1976. In recent years, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-298) extended the overall term for copyright protection another 20 years for all items that were under copyright protection on January 1, 1978. This prolonged the copyright term to last a total of 95 years from the end of the year in which it was originally secured.

What are the classroom guidelines for fair use?

Copyright law itself provides little specific guidance as to what actually constitutes educational fair use of copyrighted materials. To help provide some certainty, a committee consisting of educators, authors, and copyright holders agreed on a set of guidelines called the Classroom Guidelines for Fair Use. The guidelines aren't as lenient as educators would have liked or as strict as copyright owners would have liked, but they are the agreed upon "safe zone." The Fair Use Guidelines provide several provisions that allow instructors and libraries to place items on reserve without worry so long as these provisions are followed in good faith.

One provision states that an instructor is allowed to place a "reasonable number" of items on reserve before it is necessary to obtain copyright permission. The term "reasonable number" is very vague, and therefore is subject to disagreement from various users as to what constitutes a reasonable number. Two suggested numbers in the past have been less than 6, from the American Library Association guidelines, and the number 9, from the Fair Use Guidelines for Classroom Use. At the University of Kentucky, we've decided that 12 items may be considered reasonable.

Another provision states that "first time use" of an item does not require copyright permission provided that use of the item meets other provisions of the Fair Use Guidelines. In other words, an item may not be used from term to term by the same instructor for the same course without obtaining copyright permission.

The third major provision states that no more than one chapter or 10% of a book, whichever is less, may be photocopied without obtaining copyright permission.

While the three primary provisions are mentioned above, the guidelines also offer additional provisions that benefit instructors and libraries. One of these provisions allows instructors to temporarily place photocopies of book chapters on reserve in the event that a book ordered for reserves, or for students to purchase in the book store, does not arrive in time for students to access. All UK Libraries follow these guidelines.

Why do the UK Libraries follow these guidelines?

We follow these guidelines to protect the university, you, and ourselves from the possibility of legal repercussions from copyright owners. We are all subject to being held personally liable in the event of a legal suit if we have not followed the given law and fair use guidelines.

By whose authority were UK Libraries' copyright policies made?

With input from the UK Legal Counsel and Library Administration, a group of librarians from across campus implemented policies that would be in line with the established copyright law, the fair use guidelines within that law, and the fair use guidelines provided from other sources.

What are our reserve policies regarding copyright?

According to the Fair Use Guidelines, materials placed on reserve should be used as a supplement to a class. We try our best to abide by these guidelines while also assisting instructors in making materials available for their students. Most of our guidelines have been outlined above, but for more information, please see our copyright policies or contact the Young Library Reserves Department at 218-2049 for more information. You may also contact your library's course reserve department for more information on policies specific to individual branch libraries.

Whose responsibility is it to obtain copyright permission?

The Reserves Department at Young Library asks that all instructors who plan to use a copyrighted item check the E-Journals Database and InfoKat to see if the item is available either electronically or in book format. If an item is not available in either format, the Young Library will obtain copyright permission for reserve items that are available through the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) up to a cost of $50 per course per semester.

The library will not obtain permission for items that meet the following criteria:

  • Items not found in CCC
  • Items that are already available in the E-Journals Database
  • Items that can be obtained in book format from our collection.

It is the instructor's responsibility to obtain copyright permission for photocopied or scanned items that are not found in CCC.

How do I obtain copyright permission for those items where the library cannot obtain permission?

In most cases, the page in a journal or book containing the copyright notice will contain information such as the publisher's name, location, publication year, and in many cases, an address. There are also several resources available to find publisher's addresses. You may view a list of these resources here.

If an email address is available, it may help to speed up the response time from the publisher. You may also obtain a sample form to publishers for requesting copyright permission (see the Reserves Forms page). If you experience any problems locating an address, please contact the Young Library Reference Department at 218-2048 for assistance.

What type of copyright permissions should instructors obtain for items not covered under Young Library's copyright policy?

When asking for copyright permission, explain that the publication(s) will be used for course reserves and ask for use of the item for the longest time period possible. For instance, if you teach a course once a year and plan on using this article each time then ask for the maximum number of years they will allow. Since obtaining copyright permissions may take a while, it is best to begin this process a semester in advance when possible. Any costs incurred in situations where the instructor must request copyright permission are the responsibility of the instructor and the academic department not the library. Explaining that the material will be used for educational use only and that funds for copyright permissions are limited or non-existent may help in getting fees waived.

When requesting permissions for electronic reserves, please remind the rightsholder that access to the material will be limited with a user id and password so that only students enrolled in your course can access the material, and even then, access is limited to the current semester.

Who keeps the copyright permissions?

The instructor is responsible for keeping the copyright permissions that he or she obtains from publishers, but the library reserves the right to view the permissions upon request. For items where copyright permission has been obtained by the library, the item will be stamped with proper notification while on reserve and returned to the instructor at the end of the semester. Records of permission for specific items paid for by the library will be kept in the form of invoice records received from the CCC.

How long should copyright permissions be kept after the item is taken off course reserves?

First of all, let's start with a brief explanation of how copyright permissions work. Copyright permissions granted by the CCC apply to the semester for which the item is on reserve. Subsequent use of the same material requires that permission be obtained again. The life of copyright permissions obtained through individual publishers may vary. Some grant permission on a semester by semester rule while others may grant permission for the life of the item. Remember when requesting copyright permission to request permission for the longest possible time frame. Depending on how long permission has been granted, records of these permissions should be kept until the item is no longer needed or for at least 3 years, UK's required time frame for maintaining official records.

What happens if the library or an instructor can't obtain permission for use of an item?

There are some alternatives to obtaining copyright permission. However, if you do not think any of the alternatives listed below will work for you, you may call the Young Library Reserves Department at 218-1201 to discuss your situation and whether other possible alternatives are available.

The library reserves the right to refuse to place any new material on reserve or to remove any current reserve material if we feel that the reserve material meets any of the criteria below:

  • Material is in violation of the current copyright law or the fair use guidelines within that law
  • Material is in violation of other pertinent fair use guidelines
  • You do not have permission from the copyright holder for materials that fall outside the realm of fair use.

Why do the UK Libraries obtain copyright permission for some items on reserve but not all items on reserve?

Although we are eager to offer our help with the copyright service, we are limited by staffing and budget constraints. Therefore, we had to arrive at the most efficient and cost effective means of offering this service. In order to do this, certain items had to be eliminated from the process. These items include articles that are available full text through the E-Journals Database, items that are not registered with the CCC, and items that the Library already owns and which can be placed on reserve in lieu of photocopies.

Why do the UK Libraries place a limit on the amount of copyright permission they will pay?

Obviously, cost containment is an issue that we have to address. Based on a survey of reserves, $50 was a reasonable amount to assign for each class because many of the articles placed on reserve were either available on the E-Journals Database, in the library's book collection or not registered with the Copyright Clearance Center.

How are copyright fees assessed?

For paper reserves, the publisher or rightsholder establishes the amount to be charged per copy of an item. If placing multiple copies of a single item on paper reserve, it is necessary to pay for each copy of that item.

The publisher or rightsholder also establishes the amount to be charged for electronic reserves. However, electronic reserve fees are assessed by multiplying the copyright fee for an item by the number of students enrolled in the class. Therefore, the cost of e-reserves permissions can be significantly more than that of paper reserves.

In some instances, copyright permission may be granted free of charge if an item is to be used for reserves, but in order to obtain use of an item free of charge it is usually necessary to contact the publisher directly. In even fewer cases, a journal may print a general permission for reserve use, or classroom use, in the front of the journal, usually on the page containing the copyright information.

Are there ways to avoid the copyright dilemma?

Yes, there are some alternatives to obtaining copyright permission. Some of those alternatives are:

  • Check the UK Library's E-Journals Database to see if the article is available electronically and provide the students with the URL (permission has been obtained by the Library).
  • Put the Library's book on reserve (no permission needed). If the library does not own the book and the book excerpt will be used extensively in future semesters, the library will be happy to order a copy of the book if possible.
  • Put your personally owned book or journal issue on reserve (no permission needed).
  • Course packets produced for professors using a commercial copy service, such as Johnny Print, may be placed on reserve for the semester(s) copyright permission has been granted.


HOURS for May 26, 2022