Copyright Guidelines

UNC Libraries policy on E-Reserves is designed to maximize an instructor’s privilege under ‘fair use’ while respecting the rights of copyright holders.

The short version (which you should read if you are an instructor):

Library staff work to make sure that materials placed on electronic reserve comply with UNC’s copyright policy and federal law.

We are able to claim academic fair use for most materials faculty select for electronic reserve. Otherwise, we will try to purchase permission from the publisher.

In addition, library licenses typically allow linking to e-books and electronic articles.

If we do have to ask for permission for a particular material, the material is usually still accessible to students while we negotiate with the publisher. In most cases we are able to secure permission to add the material to the reserve system.

If you have any questions about the status of any of your materials, please contact our copyright manager at

The long version (which you don’t have to read unless you want to):

Policy & Copyright Law

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries’ policy for course reserve services is derived from the fair use provisions of United States Copyright Act of 1976. Section 107 of the Copyright Act expressly permits the making of multiple copies for classroom use. Such educational copying is one of six examples of uses which do not require the payment of a royalty or the permission of the copyright owners provided that the circumstances of the use are fair as assessed by the four factors in section 107 of the Copyright Act, the text of which is as follows:

107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 [Exclusive rights in copyrighted works] and 106A [Rights of certain authors to attribution and integrity], the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  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.

The collections of the University of North Carolina Library are purchased by the University for the nonprofit, educational use of students and faculty. All library materials are acquired with the understanding that there will be multiple uses of a limited number of copies. Libraries frequently pay a premium institutional subscription price for journals, which is many times the individual subscription price, for the privilege of supporting multiple academic users. The sole purpose of the course reserve system will be to facilitate access to a copy needed for instructional use by students.



  • will place material on reserve at the request of the instructor for the educational use of students.
  • will evaluate material for determining fair use.
  • will seek permission from the rightsholder when necessary to use material in its E-reserves database.
  • will pay permissions fees when necessary for use in its E-reserves database, up to established dollar limits set by the library.
  • 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-reserves systems whenever possible.
  • will limit online access to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty, students and staff.
  • will not charge for reserves use.
  • will place a copyright notice on photocopied works or on an intermediary screen for electronic reserve material.
  • will remove access to E-reserves material after the class has ended.


  • will complete appropriate paperwork to place materials on reserve or renew materials on reserve.
  • will provide clean photocopies of and complete citations for material to be placed on E-reserves.
  • will make appropriate use of state resources by ensuring that E-reserves material are necessary readings for students in the class.
  • will provide the copyright statement for the reading as provided by the publisher on the work whenever possible.
  • will observe printed guidelines for submitting materials whenever possible.

The Library strongly supports the University’s guidelines on copyright law. Any questions about copyright and electronic reserves may be directed to the e-reserves department at (919) 962-1355.