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What is the Trinity University Library's copyright policy?

Last Updated: Apr 06, 2010  |  196 Views
Topics: Copyright

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A comprehensive guide to the University Library's copyright policies and reserve procedures can be found at

Statement Of Guiding Principles

The Library will respect the intellectual property rights of copyright holders and will abide by all pertinent laws governing usage of copyrighted materials.  The Library also seeks to educate the Trinity University community on issues related to copyright within higher education, and will encourage the exercise of Fair Use according to legally conservative common academic interpretations of the Fair Use provisions of Title 17 U.S.C., Sec. 107 and the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).


Statement of Policy


Copyright addresses the right to make copies.  The creator of a work usually gives that authority to his or her publisher, allowing for the work to be published in the first place.  It is when that published work (an authorized original copy) is reproduced by the consumer that issues of copyright are introduced.

As of the Spring 2010 academic semester, in light of recent changes in the legal landscape pertaining to copyright in higher education, the University and the Library are returning to a more conservative interpretation of federal copyright law.  The most significant change that this will mean for instructors who request the placement of photocopied/reproduced materials on reserve (in either print or electronic format), is that the Library will no longer create or host reproductions of copyrighted works for reserve placement, in whole or in part, that have previously been used on reserve or on TLearn, by any faculty member, at any point in the past for which the Library has records, except if copying permissions are readily available for purchase and adequate funding exists to acquire these.  This is in keeping with a strict interpretation of the “spontaneity of usage” clause in the Fair Use provisions of the relevant copyright laws, cited above.    

Wherever defensible within the context of common academic practice and legal precedent, the Library will allow and support the placement on reserve of reproductions of copyrighted materials according to the stipulations of Fair Use.

Fair Use


At present, a "four factors" test is used to determine if a proposed use is fair or not.  These factors are:

  1. Purpose of the usage -- Academic uses (criticism, commentary, etc.) are easier to defend as 'fair' than commercial uses.

  2. Nature of the copyrighted work -- Nonfiction, fact-based works (information) are more understandably used fairly than creative fiction (entertainment).

  3. Amount and content of the portion of the work used -- An academic work could conceivably use large portions of a work for critical or analytical purposes.  But there comes a point when too much of the original work has been copied, at which time the use is no longer 'fair.'

  4. Impact on the market value of the work -- Would the proposed usage damage the market value of the copyrighted item?  Does the proposed usage compete with sales of the work?  Is the proposed usage simply a way to avoid buying the book or journal?

An important note about factor #1: The use of the material for academic purposes is not by itself a sufficient justification of Fair Use. The four factors interact with each other and must be considered together; no single one of them "trumps" the other three.  However, recent court decisions have tended to give more weight to factor #4.

Faculty are reminded that copyright protections have expanded greatly in both scope and duration in recent years, as have statutory and punitive penalties for non-compliance.  The Library will assist any instructor seeking guidance about copyright issues.

Answered by Jason L. HardinBookmark and Share

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