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There is no specific provision in the Copyright Act, in §108, the Library Exceptions, authorizing the library reserve system, either print or electronic. The authority for reserves resides in §107, the Fair Use provision.
Atkins Library provides Electronic Reserves for UNCC, including a copyright policy and guidelines. You will find the following pages helpful:
• ALA Fair Use and Electronic Reserves : This widely accepted consensus statement on fair use and electronic reserves was issued by the major library associations and written with the assistance of Georgia Harper and Peggy Hoon.
Electronic reserves remains a controversial practice even though it has been in place in many institutions for over a decade. The issue is whether and when the library or University should pay permission fees for posting articles online, even though all e-reserves are access-controlled. In the print world of coursepacks, there has been two major lawsuits against off-campus copy centers that produced coursepacks without paying permission fees to the copyright holders, generally via the Copyright Clearance Center. In both cases, the court held that it was not fair use to include copyrighted articles, book chapters, etc. in coursepacks. Publishers and university press associations view e-reserves as electronic coursepacks whereas libraries have always viewed reserves as an extension of the classroom. Many university libraries consider putting an article or a portion of a copyrighted work on e-reserves to be fair use the first time it is done but pay permission fees if the same material is used in subsequent semesters. Others seek permission for any use and some consider that if it is fair use in August, it is fair use in January. There is certainly a fair use argument to be made and much depends upon a library's risk tolerance. Currently, a group of publishers are suing Georgia State University over the amount of material posted in their electronic reserves and also within their access-controlled course management system. At the present time, after motions for summary judgment by both sides, the only remaining issue is whether the University is liable for contributory copyright infringement. It's a little more complicated than that; however, Georgia State University changed their copyright policy almost immediately after being sued. The publishers question whether the practice changed or just the policy.
For a greater understanding of the issues involved in digital reserves, you can view the following paper prepared for the NACUA Annual Conference in 2003 and now included in the NACUA Copyright Compendium. Note: The links contained in this paper were accurate at the time of writing but may no longer be active. To maintain the integrity of the paper, they will not be updated.
Information on the Georgia State University lawsuit:
• Legal Documents
The Georgia State University Lawsuit Injunction: Back to the Future Blog entry by Peggy Hoon, IP Scholar at the Center For Intellectual Property, Univerisity of Maryland University College
• Going Forward with Georgia State Lawsuit: Blog entry by Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications at Duke University