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Welcome to Course Reserves/E-Reserves

Fair Use in a Pandemic

With the move to remote teaching and research in the COVID-19 pandemic, copyright specialists revised fair use considerations summarized in a Statement on Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research and discussed in an April 2020 Association of Southeastern Research Libraries webinar.

CUNY library resources provide readily available online course content. Link to library-licensed articles, books, chapters, and recordings rather than upload them to a course platform. Some vendors have extended access to their products in response to the pandemic. This access will be short-lived, not durable. Contact librarians to help locate content that is available library subscriptions, or published openly.

If a licensed version of a work is not available to link to, conduct a fair use analysis to determine the suitability of providing a copy. Sharing reproductions of in-copyright works --  scanned texts or copied digital files -- requires consideration similarly applicable to distributing copies in-person.

  • It falls within fair use guidelines to share portions of works with students, for non-commercial, educational purposes.
  • Copy only as much as is needed for the pedagogical purpose.
  • It is less likely to be considered an infringement to reproduce parts of works, not entire works.
  • In unusual circumstances, or when works are otherwise unavailable, it may be considered fair use to copy lengthier portions of a work.
  • Limit access (using password protection) to enrolled students, only for as long as it is required by the course.

Adapted from “Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online” by Nancy Sims, University of Minnesota Libraries, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Fair Use and E-Reserves

York College Library Copyright Policy

The U.S. federal copyright law governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under the "fair use" provision, anyone can make limited use of copyrighted material without seeking permission. There is no specific number of words, lines, or chapters that may safely be taken without permission and all "fair use" evaluations must be done on a case by case basis. To determine whether a particular use is fair, the law requires that the following four factors be equally considered:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Placing materials on Reserves is at the initiative of faculty solely for the non-commercial, educational use of the students. All photocopies for Reserves must be made in compliance with the "fair use" provisions of Section 107 set forth below and outlined in ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries and Fair Use & Copyright @ CUNY. Materials may also be placed on Reserves if it is in the public domain or otherwise not protected by copyright, or the faculty member has received permission from the copyright holder to place the item on Reserves.

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 held liable for copyright infringement.

In support of York courses, the York College Library may maintain both a hardcopy and electronic reserve collection following the guidelines of 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Copyright Resources

Fair Use & Copyright @ CUNY is a user-friendly web resource designed to support the CUNY community in making independent, informed decisions about copyright compliance and educational fair use. Organized by library faculty in consultation with CUNY's Office of General Counsel, it is intended to respond to recent developments in course management software, e-reserves and social networking tools.

The site has multiple links to recommended FAQs, free tutorials and other online tools.

This guide from University of Southern California Libraries offers basic information on how to use images and other non-text based materials in class presentations, papers, and theses/dissertations.