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Copyright Basics: Reserves

This guide helps you sort through the tangled web of Copyright!

Course Reserves and Copyright

Warner Memorial Library will accept faculty course reserves that comply with the copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). The law is complex, but for educators, the “fair use” doctrine (Sec. 107) is the most important part of the law as it gives guidance to users of copyrighted materials on when it is permissible to legally use copyrighted work without obtaining specific permission from the copyright holder.

The fair use doctrine of the law allows for limited reproduction of copyrighted works for educational and research purposes. The following factors are used to determine if the use is permissible:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

According to Kenneth Crews in Copyright Essentials for Librarians and Educators “you… need not satisfy all four factors; courts balance them to identify their overall leaning-in favor of or against fair use.”1 Each time you plan to put an item or items on reserve, the above four factors (purpose, nature, amount and effect) must be examined to determine if you are in compliance with the law. For example, if you put five copies of the same article on reserve every semester, you may satisfy the requirement of educational purpose, but the effect on the market of repeated use and the high number of copies would probably make this practice a violation of fair use.

The Fair Use Checklist (found under the Fair Use tab of this libguide) will help in determining if the item(s) you plan to put on reserve meet the criteria for fair use.

Please note: it is not permissible to put on reserve books borrowed from other libraries (i.e. EZ Borrow).

Reserves at Eastern University

The purpose of course reserves is to make a limited number of materials accessible to many students. To this end, reserve materials are limited to a 3-hour checkout period, with one renewal, and must remain in the library.

Books and media required for reading and viewing in current semester courses may be placed on Reserve in the Library. You may either supply your own personal copies or request Warner Library’s copies from the shelf.


Personal Copies—Bring all materials to the Library Information Desk along with the attached Reserve Request form (one form for each course).


Library Copies—Check the online catalog to see if the Library owns the material. Email titles, publication dates, and call numbers to:


             Chelsea Post (


"Be sure to specify course name and number. Please allow 48 hours for processing."


Please read the attached Reserve Policy. The form is also linked below.