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About Copyright & Reserves

Putting items on reserves

First, it is complicated so don't hesitate to ask for help sorting out the readings for your classes.

Here are the basics:
Original items, like books and movies, can be placed on reserve repeatedly, under the first sale doctrine.   Material that you find in a library database, like JSTOR, can also be linked to since DePauw already paid for it.   Public domain materials, such as government documents and older books, can be reproduced and placed on reserve without the need for permissions.   Because the laws have changed so much over the years there isn't a hard and fast cut-off date-- but everything created and published before 1923 is generally OK. Some academic societies also permit the use of reproductions of their works for course reserve.   There are also a few other types of material, such as Creative Commons Licensed material and material that you created and retained the rights to when it was published, that we can generally use freely.

So what do we have to pay to use?

That's the trickiest question of all.   Librarians follow developments in copyright law very closely and since the current law is built primarily on case law, not statutory law, our interpretation is subject to change based on court decisions.

Our current interpretation is that fair use allows us to place reproductions of copyrighted material on reserve for a single semester without paying copyright fees.   Examples of materials generally covered under fair use include:

  • Short excerpts from books (fair use generally allows no more than 10% or one chapter)
  • Photocopies of articles, whether from popular or scholarly journals (Links into JSTOR and other licensed databases can be used multiple semesters without paying copyright.)
  • Short poems or excerpts from longer poems

But what if I want to put a copy of a large portion of a book on reserve?

Then we really need to just put the whole book on reserve or you should make a course pack.   If the library doesn't already own the book, please order it.   If the item is out of print or there is some other special circumstance, please contact Kayla Birt at or (765) 658-4656.

What's the process for getting permission? Do I need to do anything?

Nope, we're handling the paperwork here at the Library.   Since reserves are time sensitive, material will be posted first and library staff will process copyright as soon as possible after that.   If permission to use an item is not granted, you'll be notified and we'll explore alternative ways of making the material available to students.

Anything else?

Just that you really should feel comfortable contacting Kayla Birt ( or (765) 658-4656) or Rick Provine ( or (765) 658-4434) with any questions or concerns.   I'm happy to sit with you and your list of readings and work out how to best provide material to you and your students.