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Faculty Course Reserves Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. How early should I give you the material I want on e-Reserve?

A. As early as possible. We have a 5-business day turnaround deadline, but we always process reserves as quickly as we can. The beginning of each semester is our busiest time, so if you want your materials available for the first day of classes please get your materials to us before the semester begins.

Q. How many pages from one book can I put on e-Reserve?

A. Although there are no specific rules governing Fair Use, the Oviatt Library adheres to the Fair Use best practices, which suggests that in general, the maximum reproduction from one book-length work is one chapter, and does not exceed 10% of the total work. However, the length covered under Fair Use can be adjudged as much less if the portion of the work used is what is referred to as the “heart” of the work. For instance, if on the day Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published you put the last chapter of the book on e-Reserve, it would probably not be perceived as covered under Fair Use. Please see the last question below for more information, and also visit our Copyright Information and Resources page for more information.

Q. How many pages from one journal can I put on e-Reserve?

A. Again, although there are no hard-and-fast rules, the general practice is not more than one article from a specific journal title.

Q. What if I want my students to read more than one chapter from a book? What should I do?

A. We can make the material available through our print Reserves. Although the same Fair Use standards apply for print reproductions, we will gladly place the entire book on Reserve. You can place your own copy of a book on Reserve, request that the Library’s copy be placed on reserve, or request that the Library purchase a copy to be placed on reserve. For more information and Reserve Request forms, please see How to Put Materials on Reserve.

Q. What about the Harvard Business Review? What is the deal with the legal statement at the end of their articles? Does this mean I can’t put one of their articles on e-Reserve?

A. We have determined that the Harvard Business Review legal notice, and others like it which specifically prohibit electronic reproduction, precludes us from uploading articles from their publication to e-Reserves. HBR and some other publishers also prohibit us from providing a link to the article in our databases. If you wish your students to read articles from HBR you can direct them to either search for it through the Oviatt Library Catalog, or come to Reserves, Periodicals & Microform on the 4th floor East wing to read the article in paper form. Please note that our online coverage is currently limited for this title.

Q. What about course readers? Can I put mine on e-Reserve?

A. Yes, as long as it adheres to the Fair Use guidelines.

Q. What about Moodle? Do I still need to worry about copyright if I’m posting electronic items myself, and not going through the Library?

A. Yes, the Fair Use guidelines should be used when considering whether, or how much, to reproduce copyright protected material in any form. The Library has provided Copyright Information and Resources for professors when dealing with this issue.

Q. Can I put a PowerPoint presentation on e-Reserve?

A. Yes! You can email it to us at librbr@csun.edu, or if it’s too large to email you can always load it onto a flash drive and drop by so we can download it. We are on the 4th floor, East wing of the Library. Give us a call at x3282 so we know you are coming.

Q. What if I already have an electronic file of my e-Reserves? How do I get it to you?

A. You can email it to us at librbr@csun.edu, or if it’s too large to email you can always load it onto a flash drive and drop by so we can download it. We are on the 4th floor, East wing of the Library. Give us a call at x3282 so we know you are coming.

Q. What are the four factors governing Fair Use? Can you explain more about them?

A. The four factors are:

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

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes:

The purpose and character of use being for nonprofit educational purposes is sometimes seen by educators as shielding all classroom and educational use. This is not the case – it is just one of the four factors, and none of them stand alone if a copyright infringement case goes to court. In fact, in some court cases the first three are weighed together as equals before the fourth is considered!

In practice, a not-for-profit institution such as CSUN – using limited amounts of copyrighted material for educational purposes – will be seen as weighing in favor of fair use.

Even if the educational institution is nonprofit, if a for-profit copyshop is contracted to make coursepacks, they will be judged more stringently. This reading of the law has been upheld in several court cases between publishing firms and for-profit copy centers, such as the famous Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko's Graphics Corp. case.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work:

In general, a nonfiction work is seen as more apt to weigh in favor of fair use than a work of fiction. Also, if a work has been published, it is more apt to weigh in favor of fair use than a work that has not been published.

Consumable works, such as workbooks, are never allowed to be reproduced and placed on Reserve.

3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole:

Uncertainty about the amount of a copyrighted work one can place on Reserve is the question we receive most often. This is a sticky point, as all of us at CSUN are working to save students money and time. However, authors and publishers want to be paid for their efforts.

In general, the rule of thumb is one chapter, and not more than 10% of the work, is appropriate for a book-length work. This holds true even if a book has a general editor and each chapter was written by a different author. For journals, one article from a journal title, and not more than 10% of a single issue, is the guideline. The substantiality of the piece selected is weighed as well; this is also known as the “heart” of the work. If the chapter, or page, or even paragraph selected for Reserves is the crux of the work, it may weigh in favor of the copyright holder.

These first three factors are, in many cases, weighed together before considering the fourth and final factor:

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work:

This considers whether the copying and distribution of the work has an outsized effect on the market. For instance, if an entire textbook were to be copied and placed on e-Reserve, none of the students in the course would purchase the book, creating a detrimental effect on the bottom line of the copyright holder. This goes hand-in-hand with the third consideration, i.e. the amount and substantiality of the portion used. Remember, copyright law gives the copyright holder sole rights to distribute the copyrighted work.

In some court cases, however, the fourth factor is seen to trump the other three when making a decision. In Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc., the defendant, Mr. Smith of Michigan Document Services, Inc., was a crusader against the practice of garnering copyright permissions. He made an informed decision, after consulting with a lawyer and reading about copyright law, to forego seeking and paying for permission when creating and selling course readers. Three publishing companies, Princeton University Press, MacMillan, Inc., and St. Martin's Press, Inc. took him to court and won. The plaintiffs argued that they were losing substantial funds by Mr. Smith’s decision not to seek copyright permission. The court decided that the ease with which Mr. Smith/MDS could have sought copyright permission negated any Fair Use consideration.

Other guidelines to be considered under this factor are: is the reading assigned or supplementary/suggested? Is the material out of print or otherwise unavailable? Is the copyright owner not easily identifiable, thus making the quest for copyright permission unduly cumbersome? Is the decision to use the material so spontaneous as to leave no time to seek copyright permission?

It might come down to the makeup of the court when determining the order in which the factors are considered. In some cases, the 4th factor has been considered as having paramount, or primary, importance. In other cases it seems that the 4th factor is considered only if the court has determined the usage of copyright material is not covered under Fair Use after considering the first three factors.

5. Time limits:

But wait, there’s more!

Yes, there are only four factors courts consider when deciding on fair use. However, many of the guidelines and best practices include a time limit. The idea of fair use having a time limit has become somewhat of an established precedent.

In essence, many guidelines and best practices agree that after one semester, permission should be obtained for continued use on all reproduced copyrighted material.

More questions? Ask us at librbr@csun.edu or by calling 818 677-3282.