Campus Notice: Most College offices will be closed beginning Monday, December 22 and will reopen on Monday, January 5. [ Get More Info ... ]

Contact Us

  • Standish Library
    515 Loudon Road
    Siena College
    Loudonville, NY 12211
    (518) 783-2545


Copyright FAQ & Policy

Electronic and Print Reserves Copyright FAQ & Policy

Copyright Permission Letter (PDF format) (WORD format) that can be filled in and sent to copyright holders to request permission to use a publication for course reserve.



       1. What general accommodations for educational use have been made in the copyright law?

In general, non-profit educational use by non-profit educational institutions is more favored than commercial use. That does not mean that just because you are using a work for a course at Siena that there are no limits.

2. What is fair use?

"Fair use" is use of copyrighted material that does not require permission or payment of royalties. In deciding whether or not a particular use of particular material is fair use, the law states that the following four factors should be considered:
"(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." (U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107)

These four factors have generally been balanced evenly, but there have been findings in court which gave precedence to (4).

Factor (1) indicates that using a copyrighted work for non-profit, educational use (such as course reserves) is more likely fair use than using it in a profit-making venture. Courts also had more favorable view of a use that either transforms or builds on the original work – such as a parody, rearrangement, analysis, etc. – rather than simply reproduces the original.

Factor (2) has been interpreted to mean that using factual, non-fiction material is more likely to be ruled fair use than using creative work, such as fiction, music, art. The closer to mere facts the work, the more eligible it is for fair use; the more creative the work, the less likely use without permission/fee will be ruled fair.

Factor (3) means that the less of a copyrighted work you can use the more likely that use is to be ruled fair use, but it also has been ruled that taking even a small amount if it is "the heart" of work is NOT fair use.

Factor (4) means that a use that will have little or no effect on the market or value of a work will be more likely to been seen as fair use. Just because a work is out-of-print does not mean you can assume your use will not affect the market. This last factor is especially important in considering fair use in e-reserves because of the potential for wide distribution of digital materials.

3. Who is legally liable if there is a violation?

The College could be held liable for violations of fair use. Individuals could also be held liable for violations of copyright law particularly if the individuals ignored established College policies limiting copyright use. Penalties for violations are high. For instance, a court could award up to $150,000 for each separate act of willful infringement. Willful infringement means that an individual knew that his/her actions would violate copyright laws, but nevertheless engaged in the actions.


 4. Do I have to place an item on reserve for a specific course?

Any photocopies or electronic versions of items must be on reserve for a specific course. The library may have hardcopy originals of books and AV on course reserve or permanent reserve without restriction.

5. May I place more than one article from a specific journal on reserve?

Absent the permission of the copyright holder, only one article from a single issue of a journal may be placed on electronic or paper reserve. The only acceptable practice to use more than one article from an issue would be to put the entire original hardcopy journal issue on reserve, if the library or professor subscribes to that journal.

6. May I place more than one chapter of a book on reserve?

Absent the permission of the copyright holder, only one chapter from a book may be placed on electronic or as a photocopy on paper reserve. The only acceptable practice to have more than one chapter on reserve is to place the entire book on reserve.

7. May I put answer sheets on reserve?

Answer sheets prepared by a Siena professor may be placed on reserve. Commercially produced workbooks, answer sheets, or similar "consumables" may not be placed on reserve. This is one of few areas of copyright where the law provides clear and unambiguous instructions.

8. May I put photocopies or electronic copies on for multiple sections of the same course?

A single instructor who teaches multiple sections of one course may put the same item on reserve for students in the respective sections; however, multiple instructors of the same course may not. That is, if more than one instructor teaches a course, they may not put the same items on reserve collectively for all of their students.

9. May I put a photocopy on reserve for more than 1 term?

You can put the same photocopy/digital copy on reserve for a maximum of 2 successive semesters, as long as those semesters are within the same academic year. Otherwise, you will have to either obtain the copyright holder's permission or use something else.

10. May I put multiple copies of a video on reserve?

There are restrictions on the copying of videos and music. These two sectors are among the most aggressive in protecting copyright. The only practice which is acceptable is some instances is to make a temporary service copy and use the original as a master copy, so that you may ensure the original is protected. Under those circumstances, the master copy must never be circulated or used for reserves.

11. May I request a full-text journal from a database (e.g., Proquest) be put on e-Reserves? How do we do that?

In almost all cases, our license agreement for databases allow the Library to use the durable link to the article in the database as a link in electronic reserves; copies of the article may not be put on electronic reserves or Blackboard due to the fact that the license permissions to journals may change at any time and if the article that was copied is withdrawn from the collection covered by the license, Siena would be in violation of copyright by providing access to that journal.

12. What if I come across an article at the last minute which would be good for my class?

Number of copies per course on reserve: a faculty member may request multiple copies of photocopies be placed on the reserve shelf ONCE if there is insufficient time to obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Distribution to class: a professor may distribute photocopies of a recent article (e.g. Time or New York Times) to the class members if it had just come to his/her attention.

This principle of "spontaneity" is very limited – faculty members should make use of this provision very rarely.

13. What about other formats?

Any lawfully acquired original item owned by the college or an individual faculty member may be put on traditional reserve. For e-reserves, the Fair Use doctrine applies to all formats, including software, audio, video, Web, whatever – so the nature of the work, the amount/substantiality of the section of the work used, and the effect on the market for the work must be taken into account when deciding if permission should be obtained.

14. May students make copies of reserve materials?

Yes, one copy for their own use for study or research. Students should be notified that they are liable for any violation of copyright they may commit. Appropriate signs regarding copyright should be posted at all public reproduction equipment at the college (photocopiers, printers, microforms reader/printers, AV reproduction equipment). Copyright notice – including a specific warning against further electronic distribution – should be posted on the introductory screen of every item on electronic reserves.


 15. Whose responsibility is it to handle copyright arrangements for course reserves?

The course instructor is responsible for ensuring that a work put on reserve for his/her course does not violate copyright law.

16. How can I obtain copyright permission?

By requesting permission directly from the copyright holder or by requesting permission through the Copyright Clearance Center.

17. How will the Library assist the professors?

The library staff will inform the faculty if materials submitted may not be placed on reserve due to copyright restrictions with a brief explanation.

The library staff may assist faculty who seek copyright permission by providing publisher information and standard form letters to send to the publishers. Faculty members need to show the library staff the permission letter from the copyright holders in order to place items on reserve if use according to Siena policies is not covered by fair use.

18. Who will pay for the fees associated with the permissions from copyright holders?

Individual faculty need to give the invoices from copyright holders to Kathy Lilly in Academic Affairs.

19. Whom do I contact for more information?

Gary Thompson at the library – email or call 783-2550. He may be able to answer your question immediately or after research. He may also refer your question to Sandra Casey, the College Counsel, at 783-2314..

The following Web sites provide extensive information on copyright:




Siena College Electronic Reserves Copyright Policy

Siena College offers electronic reserves and traditional reserves as an extension of the classroom experience. Electronic reserves have the added benefit of convenience of time and place, since the service is available from off campus at any time. The College has developed its guidelines for electronic reserves based on the copyright law of the United States (specifically the Copyright Act of 1976) and accepted library guidelines, specifically relevant policy statements from the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and other libraries.

Federal law (1 7 USCS Section 106) grants copyright holders the following exclusive rights:

  1. Reproduction of the work
  2. Making derivative works
  3. Distribution of copies of the work
  4. Public performance of the work
  5. Public display of the work 

The law, however, does limit the copyright owner's exclusive rights in a number of ways, some of which relate directly to educational use. The most important limitation on exclusive rights relevant to electronic reserves service is described as the principle of fair use, as outlined in Title 17USCS Section 107, which expressly permits the making of multiple copies for classroom use:

"§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A [17 USCS §§ 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."

In keeping with the principle of fair use, while respecting copyright owners' rights, Siena College's Standish Library has developed the following guidelines for electronic reserves.

1. The Library will not put on electronic reserves any work, if it thinks to do so would constitute copyright infringement.
2. Electronic reserves are intended solely for nonprofit, educational use.
3. Materials will be placed on electronic reserve for a specific educational course or educational program.
4. The student may make one copy of a work from electronic reserves for private study, personal use, research, or scholarship.
5. Materials will be placed on electronic reserve only at the specific request of the course instructor.
6. The instructor is responsible for ensuring that a work put on electronic reserve for his/her course does not violate copyright law. The instructor may do this in any of the following ways:

a. By showing that he/she is the copyright holder;
b. By showing that putting the item on electronic reserve is a protected use under the law;
c. By obtaining any necessary copyright holder permissions, and/or paying any copyright royalties.

 The Library staff will provide assistance to the instructor in these areas. Many works -such as very old publications, most U.S. government publications, and telephone books [mere listing of facts] – are either in the public domain or not covered by copyright. Such works may be put on electronic reserves without seeking permission to use or considering whether the use is fair use. The instructor should consult Gary Thompson for assistance in determining whether a work being considered is unrestricted for either reason.

7. Only lawfully acquired works shall be put on electronic reserves.
8. Only a portion of a copyrighted work (for example, one article out of an issue of a journal or one chapter out of a book) shall be put on reserves without the permission of the copyright holder.
9. Electronic reserves shall not be used to create or replace collective works or to substitute for the purchase of books or periodicals.
10. Copyrighted "consumable" works, such as workbooks and test forms, shall not be put on electronic reserves, unless the instructor requesting them is the copyright holder or permission for this use has been obtained from the copyright holder.
11. The same material placed on electronic reserve for the same course for successive years or more than one course requires copyright permission.
12. No fees are charged for accessing or copying materials on electronic reserves and neither Siena College nor its employees will benefit financially from use of this service.
13. Access to materials placed on electronic reserve will be limited to the students, instructors, and library staff of Siena College. Access will be limited by authorizations or IPs and search functionality (i.e., searchable by professor or course number only).
14. The Library will post materials to electronic reserves in PDF format, whenever possible. If the Library subscribes to electronic materials, whose license permits reserve use, a link will be provided, if practicable.
15. Student access to materials placed on electronic reserve will be ended at the conclusion of the course.
16. The introductory screen of the electronic reserves system shall display a copyright notice, in keeping with the notice in 17 USCS Section 108 (the Copyright Act).

NOTICE: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. Users may be liable for copyright infringement.

17. If a work cannot be posted to electronic reserves because of copyright restrictions, the following options may still be available:

a. Providing links to electronic sources lawfully posted on the Web.
b. Including in a course pack if permission to make print copies is granted, but permission to make available electronically is not.
c. Finding a source for students to purchase copies of the work.

Posted: December 18, 2006.