Copyright Guidelines for Course Materials


The following guidelines are intended to assist faculty and staff members preparing secondary copies of original materials for use in accredited courses at Bates College. In addition, there are many circumstances not discussed in these guidelines where a reasonable judgment in favor of fair use would apply.

1 Library Reserves:

For books, articles, sound recordings and videos on reserve in Ladd Library…more on Library Reserves

2 Learning Management System:

Bates College considers its course management system an extension of the classroom, and provides secure access to the system only to students currently enrolled in the course… more on LMS guidelines

3 Course Packs:

Printed course packs may be made available for sale in the Bookstore… more on course packs

The College provides a number of means through which students obtain course-related materials, including:

  • books, textbooks, and other materials available for purchase at the College Store
    A copy of all Required books sold at the College Store will be placed on reserve at Ladd Library.
  • books, articles, sound recordings and videos on reserve in Ladd Library
  • electronic journals, books, and sound files accessed through library reserve lists or Lyceum
  • copies of their own materials placed on reserve by faculty members
  • streaming services for audio and other media
  • print course packs (anthologies) available for sale in the College Store

Before placing a copy of an item on reserve in the Library or including it in a course Web site, a faculty member should consider what might be the best means of delivering the material:

  • Should it instead be included in a course pack?
  • Should students buy the original as part of the material that is required for the class?
  • Is the original available in the Library, and might it be placed on reserve?
  • Is the material available electronically in the Library, or freely on the Internet?
  • Is the material necessary in its entirety, or can it be excerpted?

In many cases, Ladd Library reserve or distribution via Lyceum is the appropriate means of delivering material to students. Some faculty members and students prefer the convenience of a printed course pack, because all course readings are available in one place. Like material distributed in class meetings, distribution of these materials must comply with U.S. copyright law. The material must be in the public domain, be used under fair use provisions of the copyright law, or be used with permission of the copyright holder.

Public Domain

Public domain materials include facts such as census data; government documents; works whose copyright has expired because of age; and works whose copyright was allowed to lapse through neglect. These materials require no permission, and may be copied and distributed freely. For a year by year breakdown of this complex issue, see “When U.S. Works Pass into the Public Domain” by Lolly Gasaway.

Fair Use

If a duplicated item is to be used in library reserve or Lyceum under the fair use provisions of the copyright law, it must be done strictly for the educational use of students enrolled in a regularly scheduled course at Bates College. Title 17 § 107 United States Code, states that:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by 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 fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.”

Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code.

Bates College expects students, faculty, and staff to make reasoned, responsible judgments with regard to the fair use of copyrighted materials. Bates users may be interested in looking at The University of Texas’s Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials, which provides a commonsense approach to fair use and examples of how the four factors may be applied in making specific judgments. The Columbia University Libraries/Information Services Copyright Advisory Office also provides a convenient checklist that helps users assess the four factors in making individual decisions regarding fair use.


Material not in the public domain or which falls outside of fair use requires licensing or permission for duplication. Permission can often be obtained through publisher’s websites or through the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). The CCC includes links to copyright services in several foreign countries. In cases where the copyright holder cannot be located or is unresponsive, demonstration of a good faith effort to obtain permission for copies of copyrighted material may also be considered. In those cases where a work is not licensed for perpetual use, each semester’s use requires renewed permission.

The Library provides assistance in obtaining copyright permissions, and handles requests for placing materials on course reserves or in course packs. Contact us at