University Library Copyright Policy

Fair use | Reserves | Library Owned Materials

Statement on Fair Use

Sonoma State University Library's copyright compliance guidelines for Reserve Services are based on the Library's interpretation of Section 107 Limitations on exclusive rights, Fair Use of Title 17 (Copyrights) of U.S. Code.

Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. 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.

Copyright Statement

NOTICE:  WARNING CONCERNING COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code)governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material, [including but not limited to, books, journal articles, web pages, DVDs, videocassettes, CDs, audiocassettes, and CDROMs].  Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.


Materials intended for use by all students in a class may be placed on reserve at the University Library, based on the limitations imposed by copyright law for reserve materials. Reserve readings are meant to supplement course text materials, not replace them.

The University Library will make every effort to accommodate faculty requests for reserve materials, but may need to limit the number of items placed on reserve for any one course, or restrict inclusion of materials for copyright reasons.

The complete bibliographic citation or attribution for the work, if privately published, must be posted on all reserve items. Copyright notice will automatically appear on screen in the electronic reserve system and on copies made of reserve readings to indicate that materials may be covered by copyright law.

General information for Faculty: 

  • The same reserve item may be cross-listed, and there is a section on the request form to indicate this. 
  • Form for Library reserve materials.
  • A minimum of 2 days processing time is required to make new reserve items available to students.  (More time may be necessary for reused materials depending on copyright clearance.)
  • For book reserves, the library will be subsidizing copyright clearance based on budget.  Generally, clearance covers only one semester usage which means that we will need to get clearance for each subsequent use.
  • It is the responsibility of the instructor to secure permission with the copyright holders for the use of facsimiles or reproductions of media items.

Content appropriate for inclusion in reserves:

  • Instructor-owned material such as course syllabi, lecture notes, problem sets/solutions, sample exams.
  • Book chapters and journal articles from online journals or ebooks to which the library subscribes (and where license agreements allow). These items are high resolution and cleared for copyright through the library's licensing agreements for that database. 
  • Book chapters and journal articles from print journals or books owned by the library.  For these items, the instructor is responsible for providing a clearly legible photocopy, including a complete bibliographic citation, whether designated for print or electronic reserve.
  • Limited portions of copyrighted works not owned by the library, e.g., journal articles, a chapter or 10% of a book, a selection (10% or less) from non-print works such as digital collections of images.
  • Student papers or other unpublished works accompanied by written permanent permission from the author. (pdf form *)
  • Other parts or whole works that do not constitute copyright infringement, e.g., government documents and personal class notes.

The above amounts are estimates designed to safeguard the University and its individual members from legal action due to copyright infringement. Exceptions to the above limits must take into consideration the four fair use factors. 

Content generally not accepted for reserves:  

  • Collections of readings that constitute the text for a course.  These collections should be made available through course packs, with appropriate royalty fees paid.
  • Materials considered to be "consumable," e.g., published workbooks, study guides, exercises, standardized tests, test booklets and answer sheets, without publisher's permission.
  • Materials extracted from workbooks that students would normally be expected to purchase.
  • Journal articles that have been included in course packs students are expected to purchase.
  • Copyrighted materials that do not include a complete citation and/or clear indication of copyright ownership.
  • Student papers or other unpublished works not accompanied by written permanent permission from the author.
  • Illegally recorded or duplicated electronic media, including but not limited to off-the-air recordings, music compilations not accompanied by permissions or downloaded media. 


Articles and books not owned by the library may be placed on reserve for one semester only under fair use guidelines.   Subsequent use requires securing permission from the rights holder or the Copyright Clearance Center.   The instructor must indicate at the beginning of each semester whether or not the material will be used again.  Without clear indication of intended subsequent use, materials will be removed at the end of each semester.  Short term access to materials included in the reserve collection in previous academic terms may be provided to students who have not completed the course.  This will be arranged on a case by case basis.

Changes in copyright law require the library to ascertain that permissions are in place for print, media and electronic reserves.  Beginning 2006, the library may establish a cost-sharing model for items for which there are charges for subsequent use.

Use of Library-owned materials

North Bay Regional and Special Collections:

Copyright compliance guidelines for the University Library's North Bay Regional and Special Collections services are based on the Library's interpretation of Section 107 Limitations on exclusive rights, Fair Use of Title 17 (Copyrights) of U.S. Code. Library personnel make reproductions from print collections for requesters when fair use guidelines are met. In the case of unpublished materials, reproduction and use contingencies established by the donor or copyright holder may apply. Meeting any contingencies is the responsibility of the requester. Reproductions made for all other uses require consultation with Library personnel. Fees may apply.

Display and performance of media materials from these collections are limited to the exemptions listed in Title 17 Section 110 Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays. For more information, refer to American Library Association fact Sheet.

Specific information regarding the use of the Gaye LeBaron Collection, including items from The Press Democrat, is found at:

North Bay Digital Collections

Restrictions on the use of images in the Library's digital collections may apply. For more information, read Conditions for Reproduction and Use of Special Materials or contact

Approved by Library Faculty 8/16/05.

* Note: You will need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.