Course Reserves & Copyright

The Library places materials on class reserve with the understanding that the course instructor has complied with  U.S. Copyright Law. The information below is provided to help you determine fair use and obtain copyright permission.

General Copyright Policies | Determining Fair Use | Obtaining Permission

Reserve Policies

Items are added to the reserve collection under the following conditions:

  • A print version of copyrighted material to be scanned for eReserve has been lawfully acquired.
  • A print version of copyrighted material to be scanned for eReserve has been provided to the library.


  • Library staff scan material for placement in the eReserve system for one semester. All copyrighted materials are removed from the eReserve system at the end of each semester. The same material may not be used in subsequent semesters without the written permission of the publisher.
  • Materials on eReserve are accessible by faculty name or course number, and are available only to users on the USC computer network.
  • A copyright notice is attached to each copyrighted document in the eReserves system.

Determining Fair Use

The U.S. Copyright Law includes a provision for ‘fair use’ that permits making copies of copyrighted material for classroom use.

In order to determine fair use the following four factors must be considered:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fair use factors are only guidelines; no specific rules are provided.  Additional information including Fair Use Evaluators are included in in the Library’s  Copyright  guide.  If use of an item does not qualify under the fair use provision, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder.

Obtaining Permission

Material in the Norris Medical Library Collection

Books: Books in the Library’s circulating collection may be added to the reserve collection for one semester without permission.

Book Chapter: A copy of a single chapter from a book in the Library’s collection may be added to the eReserves system for one semester without permission. Use of multiple chapters from one book requires permission.

Print Journal Article: A copy of a single article from a print journal in the Library’s collection may be added to the eReserves system for one semester without permission. Use of multiple articles from the same journal requires permission.

eJournal Article: Some eJournal providers’ licensing agreements allow articles to be added to eReserve systems without permission; others specifically require permission be obtained. To determine whether permission is needed, complete the eJournal eReserves Permission Inquiry request form or contact the Access Services office at (323) 442-1126.

Material Not in the Norris Medical Library Collection

When permission is required, you may contact the rightsholders directly or contact the USC Bookstore or the Copyright Clearance Center for assistance. You should allow up to 10 weeks to process permission requests.

Contacting the Rightsholder Directly: The library has created a Copyright Permission request form you may use to contact the publisher directly.  The letter may need to be modified to meet your needs. Simply download and complete the form, and print the document to mail. Be sure to include the following items with your request: 1) a copy of the item for which you are asking permission, and 2) a self-addressed envelope.

Copyright Clearance Center: The Copyright Clearance Center contracts with many publishers to obtain permission for you. The CCC can also help you determine who holds the copyright.

For additional information contact the Access Services office at (323) 442-1126 or