Copyright Guidelines for Library Reserves

The guidelines described below apply to all University Libraries' reserve systems and are promulgated pursuant to 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. The library will not knowingly make available any material which violates these regulations. Materials are available only to the WMU community and all are expected to adhere to copyright and fair use guidelines. For additional copyright information, please see our Copyright and Licensing guide.

Library copyright guidelines for reserve materials

  • Complete books: Complete books may be placed on physical reserve.

  • Book chapters:* Only one chapter or 20 percent of the total content from any book may be placed on electronic reserve each academic term. This applies to edited collections of readings and essays because each reading is considered a chapter.

  • Journal and newspaper articles:* Only one article from any single issue of a journal may be placed on reserve each academic term. Newspapers are treated the same as journals.

  • Student papers: Student papers or other unpublished works to be placed on reserve must be accompanied by written permission of the author for each academic term it is used.

  • Consumables: Consumable materials will not be placed on reserve. One of the tenets of fair use is that such use not affect the market value and consumables such as workbooks, exercises, standardized test and test booklets, and answer sheets fall under this tenet.

  • Course packs: Custom published anthologies prepared for sale through local copy centers and bookstores are not appropriate because again, one of the tenets of fair use is that such use not affect the market value. Course packs will not be placed on reserve.

  • U.S. government publications: Most government publications are in the public domain. They are not copyrighted. Unlimited use and reproduction is allowed.

* A note on journal article and book chapter requests

If the University Libraries has a current license for access to digital versions of copyrighted material (e.g., Electronic Resources), photocopies may not be scanned. In these instances, if available, a static link to the licensed electronic version of the material will be added to the electronic reserve system, thus providing direct access to the requested material.

Display of copyright

When submitting copyrighted material for reserve, for your own protection, you must insure that you have complied with the library copyright guidelines. This includes supplying a copy of the title page and the copyright statement (usually found on the back of the title page) for each item, in all instances where you are not the copyright holder of the material submitted. The material will not be processed without them.

Proof of permission can be asked for at any time by a publisher. If your permission request has been sent but not yet returned, we can post your material in the meantime, and so note your permission request. All permissions should be received before the mid-term, however, or the material may be removed.

Conditions of the University Libraries reserve systems

  • Materials placed on reserve will comply with the U.S. copyright laws.
  • The University Libraries will seek copyright clearance for reserve material exceeding fair use guidelines.
  • The University Libraries will assume the fees for one semester only.
  • Faculty will be notified for reconsideration if copyright fees exceed $50.
  • Patron's library records are strictly confidential; information will not be released.
  • The University Libraries will not replace lost or damaged personal copies.

Time and storage

Reserve processing time

A minimum of two days processing time is required to make new reserve items available to students. Additional processing time may be required at the beginning and at the end of terms and before exams. Material that must be searched, recalled and/or ordered, require additional processing time.

Storage and reuse of reserve items

  • Permission from the copyright holder is required if the item is to be reused in a subsequent academic term for the same course offered by the same instructor, or if the item is a standard assigned or optional reading for an individual course taught in multiple sections by many instructors.
  • Materials may be retained in electronic form while permission is being sought or until the next academic term in which the material might be used, but in no event for more than two calendar years, including the year in which the materials are last used.
  • Short-term access to materials included on electronic reserve systems in previous academic terms may be provided to students who have not completed the course.

Check for fair use

"Fair use" balances authors' rights with education needs. It is a provision of the Copyright Act that provides that certain limited, educational uses of copyright works do not constitute copyright infringement. The Copyright Act establishes a four-factor test – purpose, nature, amount and effect – to determine whether the use of a copyrighted work is fair use that does not require the permission of the copyright owner. Fair use does not grant unrestricted use of information at Western Michigan University. 

Use our Fair Use Checklist to determine whether your use of a copyrighted work is within the limits of fair use under U.S. copyright law. We recommend that you complete this checklist and keep a copy in connection with each fair use of a copyrighted work.