Copyright Guidelines for Electronic Reserves

Current copyright law provides legal protection to nearly all readings and other course material that an instructor may place on electronic reserves. The reproduction (copying or scanning) of material currently protected by copyright and/or commercially available is subject to copyright compliance.

These guidelines are based upon interpretations of fair use provisions, Section 107, Title 17, “Copyrights” of the United States Code, and are intended to serve as minimum standards for placing materials on electronic reserves.

Placing copies of copyrighted material on electronic reserves cannot:

  • generate the effect of negating the commercial sale of the material.
  • violate copyright law, whether or not the material is commercially available.


What items are not copyrighted?

These items fall into three categories:

  1. items in the public domain; e.g., federal and state government publications.
  2. items for which copyright has expired (and not renewed).
  3. items for which copyright was never granted. If documents you wish to submit are lecture notes, homework solutions, and sample exams written by you, copyright clearance is assumed.

If the instructor is not the copyright owner or the author of a non-copyrighted work, the material may be placed on reserve only if:

  • the copyright owner or author of a non-copyrighted work grants permission, or,
  • the intended use of the work is covered by the “fair use” provision of copyright law.


What is “fair use”?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows the public to make limited uses of copyrighted works without obtaining permission. In academic libraries, fair use allows materials to be placed on electronic reserves only for the purpose of serving the needs of specified educational programs. Specific exceptions/restrictions may apply that are not covered here and faculty may consult with our Interlibrary Loan Librarian at [email protected] or 972-883-2900.

If you would like additional information about copyright restrictions, please visit The University of Texas System Copyright webpage.

Page Last Updated: February 1, 2020