Course Reserves Copyright Policy


Copyright notices do not have to be placed on works for copyright to be in effect. Copyright begins when a work is created in a fixed and tangible medium of expression. Copyright applies to published as well as unpublished works. .

Fair Use

The "Fair Use" clause in copyright was created as a limited exception in order to encourage the free flow of ideas while maintaining the rights of the original copyright holder. Fair use contains vague and unclear language which can make it difficult to determine how much copying can be done without infringing on copyright. The American Library Association and other organizations have established guidelines for fair use of materials. These guidelines are not the law but are widely accepted minimum standards. The Roger Williams University libraries abide by these guidelines to ensure the university does not engage in copyright infringement. If these guidelines cannot be met, copyright permission must be obtained from the copyright holder in order to place them on reserve.


  • Copies cannot be used to create, replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective works, whether or not such copies are to be bound or provided separately
  • Multiple articles from the same issue of a journal, magazine or newspaper
  • Multiple chapters from the same book
  • There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets, answer sheets, and like consumable materials
  • Copying will not substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints, or periodicals

Cumulative Effect

  • The copying of the material is for only one course per class term of the instructor for whom the copies are made.
  • Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
  • There shall not be more than 9 instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.

Works in the Public Domain (No Copyright Applicable)

(source: Copyright Center)
Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others:

  • Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded)
  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration
  • Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)
  • Works created by the government
  • Works where the copyright has expired


Any commercially available or an individual’s lawfully created CD, DVD or other multimedia recording may be processed for Reserves. The media resources librarian will review submissions from faculty’s personal collections to ensure copyright compliance. 

Obtaining Permission

If permission from the copyright holder will be required, the Copyright Clearance Center can help in obtaining consent. Fees may be associated with all permissions.

Copyright Clearing Center
27 Congress Street
Salem, MA 01970

Please allow time for processing the permissions request. All permissions should be obtained well in advance of when the course reserves are required.

Web Sites on Copyright