Research Links: List of Databases, Course Reserves

Quick Search: Articles, newspapers, books and ebooks, videos and more. Results primarily available online but may also include books available in the library or articles that can be requested for email delivery from ILLiad.

Catalog: Books (including ebooks) and other items in UNLV Libraries. Does not search journal articles.

Library Information: Pages on library web site, for example research guides, library policies and procedures, hours and events.

help

Copyright Questions For Reserve Material

The following questions are designed to help you make judgments about whether or not you should seek copyright permission before placing an item on reserve.

1. Is the work in the public domain?
Please keep in mind that just because a work is out of print doesn't mean it is not protected by copyright. Always make sure a work is in the public domain before answering "yes." Any work published before 1923 is automatically in the public domain.
If your answer is yes, stop here, no consideration of copyright is necessary.

2. Is the work one for which I am the copyright holder?
Any work you create, such as syllabi, your lecture notes, or handouts created by you, are yours to distribute as you please. This does not automatically apply to articles that you have written for scholarly journals! Academic authors typically sign away some or even all of their copyright privileges to publishers. Check the agreement that you signed for the particular article you want to use, and contact your publisher if you are unsure. While it may seem impossible, there have been cases where publishers have taken legal action against an author who signed away rights on his own work.
If your answer is yes, stop here, no consideration of copyright is necessary.

3. Is the work a U.S. Government publication?
Because works produced by the United States Government are produced with taxpayer dollars, they are considered the property of the American people and cannot be copyrighted.
If the answer is yes, stop here, no consideration of copyright is necessary.

4. Is there a printed waver on the work from the author granting permission to use the work for educational purposes?
If there is a specific waver of this nature somewhere on the work itself, there is no need to seek permission.
If the answer is yes, stop here, no consideration of copyright is necessary.

5. Is the work being put on reserve for the purposes of teaching and/or scholarship?
The reserve system, both paper and physical, is intended only as a way of getting required course readings to students enrolled in that course. Please do not ask the library to put up documents for any other purpose.
If your answer is no, stop here-you cannot put this item on reserve.

6. Is the work a textbook, coursepack, or other item available at the bookstore that a student would normally be expected to purchase?
The library will not put up items that the student would normally be expected to buy, such as coursepacks. This undercuts the bookstore and also pretty clearly violates the fair use clause concerning effect on the market for the work.
If your answer is yes, stop here-you cannot put this item on reserve.


Fair Use Questions

If you have made it this far, your work is a copyrighted work and must meet the requirements under the law for fair use in order to go on reserve. The questions below are drawn from various guidelines, case law, and the copyright act itself. Note that they deal in probabilities; the only way to be absolutely certain that a use is a fair use is for a court to make a ruling on it.

1. Is the work a "consumable" item such as a workbook?
This comes from the guideline about potential effect on the market for the work. Answer keys and workbooks, by their very nature, have a market that is more sensitive to abuse than other kinds of copyrighted works. Any use of a consumable item without permission is less likely to be judged fair.

2. Is there sufficient time for me to ask for permission from the copyright holder?
If there is not enough time for you to investigate obtaining permission between your discovery of the article and the time you want to use it, then your use is more likely to be fair. Using the same article over several semesters without obtaining permission is extremely unlikely to be judged fair.

3. Is there a mechanism for obtaining permission from the copyright holder? Is the fee or requirement for using the material reasonable?
Many publishers have made it possible for educators to ask for permission to use copyrighted works in electronic or paper reserve through the Copyright Clearance Center, or by writing or contacting them directly. If a publisher can show that such a mechanism exists, and you did not investigate or use it, then your use is less likely to be judged a fair one. Also, if the fee was nominal or there were very very light restrictions on how you could have used the document, your use is less likely to be considered fair.

4. How much of the work am I using? Could the part I am using be considered the "heart" or "essence" of the work?
Journal articles are considered complete works, as might an essay taken from a collection or anthology. The more of a work you use, the less likely your use will be fair. Using the "heart" of a work also makes your use less likely to be fair; for example, taking the five minutes of the actual eruption of Mount St. Helens from an hour long documentary on the eruption might constitute taking the "heart" of the work.

5. Is the work published or unpublished?
One of the exclusive rights of authors is the right to first publication. Courts are very strongly protective of this right in particular, so if you are using any part of a work not previously published without permission, your use is much less likely to be judged fair.

6. Is the work fiction or nonfiction?
Courts are more strongly protective of works that involve great creativity, such as short stories, plays, or novels. Use of a creative work is less likely to be judged fair than use of a factual one.

7. Do you or the library already own a lawfully obtained copy of the work?
Again, one of the tests of fair use is its potential impact on the market for the work. If you are making or using a copy of a work in a situation in which you would normally have had to purchase the work first, your use is less likely to be judged fair.