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Home / Find It / Course Reserves / Placing Material on Reserves / Reserves Copyright Policy

Reserves Copyright Policy

Filed under: policy


The primary purpose of library reserves is to facilitate student access to educational materials for university classes.  The UW Libraries seeks to achieve this purpose in a manner fully consistent with copyright law and applicable licenses for online databases.   

The UW Libraries licenses numerous resources for use as course reserves. (See for details on using licensed resources.)  When instructors choose to use copyrighted materials that are not licensed, the instructors are responsible for complying with U.S. copyright law. 

In implementing this policy, instructors may consider the principle of fair use, which limits the copyright owner’s exclusive rights and allows for the use of copyrighted works under certain circumstances.  The principle of fair use has been developed through many court decisions and is codified in Section 107 of the copyright law.  Section 107 sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether a particular use is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the 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.

In addition to fair use, other principles of copyright law may sometimes be relevant to the use of copyrighted works in the university.  For example, under some circumstances the copyright owner’s exclusive rights do not limit the performance or display of a work in the context of classroom teaching.  See 17 USC §§110(1) and (2).


The Libraries and UW instructors have shared responsibilities in operating and using library reserves.


The UW Libraries operates the overall reserve system and responds to requests to instructors to make materials available.  Specifically, Libraries

  • will place material on reserve at the request of the instructor for the educational use of students.
  • will evaluate purchasing or licensing material that is placed on reserve if possible.
  • will negotiate licenses for online resources that include permission to use materials in e-reserve systems and course packs whenever possible.
  • will limit online access to UW faculty, students and staff.
  • will not charge for reserve use.
  • will place a copyright notice on photocopied works or on an intermediary screen for electronic reserve material.
  • will remove access to reserve material after the class has ended.
  • retains the right not to place materials on reserve, and to remove materials, in order to comply with applicable law.


Instructors are responsible for providing the Libraries with copies of or citations for the materials they want on reserve, and for compliance with legal restrictions.  Specifically, instructors

  • are responsible for compliance with copyright law, including compliance with the principle of fair use.
  • will obtain any required permissions from the copyright owners and pay royalties when necessary.
  • will make appropriate use of state resources by only placing on reserve those materials that are required or supplementary readings for students in the class.