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Copyright and Fair Use: Copyright for Reserves

A primer on the U.S. Copyright Act and Fair Use.

Fair Use Guidelines for Digitizing Videos

The library will not digitize videos in the collection for online student viewing.   If your students need to view a film for educational purposes, then it may be possible to make a fair use argument to digitize the material yourself, so that students may view it through a streaming service.   

  • Make sure that the video content serves a pedagogical purpose; do not use it as entertainment.
  • Check to see that video cannot already be rented through a commercial vendor such as NetFlix or Amazon Prime.  Copies should not be made of material that is commercially available at a reasonable cost.  If this is possible, its unlikely fair use applies.
  • Check to see if the video is available online through YouTube or through a service the library maybe able to license a digital copy.   If this is possible, link to the video, which is ordinarily not a violation of copyright.
  • Check to see if the video you would like to use is out of print.  This would favor a fair use argument.
  • The video you are digitizing must be owned and not licensed/ rented. 

If you determine its possible to make a fair use argument, if copying a video,please consider the following to put yourself in the best position to assert a fair use argument.  

  • do not use any more of the video than the amount needed to serve your purpose.
  • place the video in the context of the course, explaining why it was chosen and what it was intended to illustrate. 
  • limit access to the video to students enrolled in the course.
    limit access to the video to students enrolled in the course only during the time it is needed during the course.   Put it up and take it down according to this timeline.
  • use streaming (such as Panopto through Blackboard) to limit students' ability to download, copy, or redistribute the material.  Students should only be able to stream the video.
  • notify students that videos are being made available for teaching, study, and research only.
  • provide attributions to known copyright owners of the videos.

The library has licensed digitized videos that can be found through the library catalog.

Copyright Questions?

We're here to help!

This guide provides a basic primer about copyright and fair use for instruction.  If you have specific questions, please e-mail


These pages were created to provide basic copyright information and are not a substitute for legal advice.


Part I: Materials allowed to be placed on reserves, materials not allowed, and length of time limitations

In compliance with the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions With Respect to Books and Periodicals (H.R. 94-1476) and Section 107: Fair Use (Title 17, U.S. Code) of the Copyright Act of 1976 the following policy will be applied to copyrighted materials to be placed on reserve.

  1. Portions of copyrighted materials that may be placed on reserve without obtaining copyright permission for a single class and a single semester:
    1. A chapter from a book;
    2. An article from a periodical or newspaper;
    3. A short story, essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
    4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper;
    5. Commercially produced course packs (Copyright for these items are generally secured by the vendor);
    6. Government publications.
  2. Copyrighted materials that may not be placed on reserve:
    1. A photocopy of an entire book that is in print;
    2. Multiple articles from a single journal issue for a single class.
  3. Length of time copyrighted materials may remain on reserve: Copyrighted materials may be placed on reserve for one semester only. If the instructor wishes to keep copyrighted materials on reserve for consecutive semesters, it is his/her responsibility to submit a new request for the upcoming semester.

Part II - Material Stipulations for Course Reserves

  1. Non-copyrighted materials that may be placed on reserve:
    1. Exams;
    2. Lecture notes;
    3. Student papers
  2. Materials that may not be placed on reserve:
    1. Pages from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or teaching. These include copyrighted workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, test booklets and answer sheets.
    2. Coursepacks of any variety will not be accepted for reserve.
  3. The following requests may require copyright permission from the rights holder:
    1. When a journal article is needed on reserve for more than one semester;
    2. When multiple articles from one journal are needed for reserve;
    3. When multiple chapters from a book are needed for reserve.