Photocopying for Classroom Use and Library Reserves

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or other reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use", that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

Copying for Classroom Uses

Primary and secondary school educators have, with publishers, developed guidelines which allow a teacher to distribute photocopied materials to students in a class, without the publisher's prior permission, upon compliance with these and other conditions:

  • The distribution of the same photocopied materials does not occur every semester.
  • Only one copy is distributed for each student, which must become the student's property.
  • The materials include a copyright notice on the first page of the portion of material photocopied.
  • The students are not assessed any fee beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.
Copying for Library Reserve Uses

At the request of a faculty member, a library may photocopy and place on reserve excerpts from copyrighted works in its collection in accordance with the guidelines above, similar to those governing formal classroom distribution for face-to-face teaching discussed above. Hamilton College believes that these guidelines apply to the library reserve shelf to the extent it functions as an extension of classroom readings or reflects an individual student's right to photocopy for his personal scholastic use under the doctrine of fair use.

If the request calls for only one copy to be placed on reserve, the library may photocopy an entire article, an entire chapter from a book, or an entire poem. Requests for multiple copies on reserve should meet the following guidelines:

  • The amount of material should be reasonable in relation to the total amount of material assigned for one term of a course, its subject matter and level.
  • The number of copies should be reasonable in light of the number of students enrolled, the difficulty and timing of assignments, and the number of other courses that may assign the same material.
  • The material should contain a notice of copyright.
  • The effect of photocopying the material should not be detrimental to the market for the work. In general, the library should own at least one copy of the work.

Electronic Reserves

These guidelines apply to Electronic Reserves as well as paper copies. Copyright notices are applied to the documents before they are scanned for use on the Web. Electronic Reserves are available for use off campus by members of the Hamilton College Community only, and their use is protected by copyright.

Library staff can only scan documents for Electronic Reserves. Please visit the Information Commons Desk in Burke Library to learn how to scan documents and create PDF files.


Questions about Library Reserves?

Contact the Circulation Department at askcirc@hamilton.edu or (315) 859-4479.


These guidelines also apply to materials faculty members put directly into their Blackboard courses.

Publication Permissions

Seeking Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials

Educators should be aware that it may be possible to make use of copyrighted materials beyond what is provided under fair use, if permission is granted first. There may or may not be a charge, and permission may be refused, but it never hurts to ask.

To seek permission:

First, determine ownership of the work. A Reference Librarian can help in determining whom to contact. The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) may be able to provide permission for using print materials. Media Library films are not covered by the CCC, so you will need to locate addresses of individual publishers.

Next, send a detailed letter of request, including the following:

  • Title and author's/originator's name
  • Editor and edition (if a print material)
  • Exact material to be used, including amount, page numbers, chapters and if possible a photocopy of the material, or other appropriate quantitative description
  • Number of copies to be made
  • Purpose for the duplicated materials
  • Form or method of distribution
  • Whether or not the material is to be sold
  • Type of reproduction (photocopy, slide, videotape, etc.)

You might also do the following:

  • Leave blank spaces (possibly in the form of a checklist) at the end for the publisher to fill in whether or not permission is granted, conditions, authorized signature and date.
  • Make three copies - one for your files and two to send to the publisher.
  • One of these is to be returned to you with the publisher's decision indicated
  • Include a self-addressed, stamped return envelope.
  • Don't ask for a blanket permission - in most cases it cannot be granted.
  • Send by registered mail when response is crucial, such as for publications that will be sold or printed for distribution.

Recommended Readings

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education
Washington, D.C.: Center for Social Media, 2008.
This document was designed to help educators using media literacy concepts and techniques interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use based on the five principles that represent the media literacy education community's current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials in education.

  1. Employing copyrighted material in media literacy lessons
  2. Employing copyrighted material in preparing curriculum materials
  3. Sharing media literacy curriculum materials
  4. Student use of copyrighted materials in their own academic and creative work
  5. Developing audiences for student work

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