Using Content: Library Reserves

Frequently Asked Questions about E-Reserves From The Association of American Publishers (AAP)

Applying Fair Use in the Development of Electronic Reserves Systems From several leading library associations

Applying Fair Use in the Development of Electronic Reserves Systems
Test Your Copyright Knowledge
What You Need To Know

The Following guidelines were developed from a joint effort of and provided courtesy of: The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), The American Library Association (ALA), The Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL), The Medical Library Association (MLA) and The Special Libraries Association (SLA).

  1. The character of the use. Libraries implement e-reserves systems in support of nonprofit education.
  2. The nature of the work to be used. E-reserve systems include text materials, both factual and creative. They also serve the interests of faculty and students who study music, film, art and images. Librarians take the character of the materials into consideration in the overall balancing of interests.
  3. The amount used. Librarians consider the relationship of the specific amount used to the whole of the copyright owner's work. Because the specific amount of a copyrighted work that a faculty member assigns depends on many factors (such as its relevance to the teaching objective and the overall amount of material assigned), librarians may also consider whether that specific amount – or even the entire work – is appropriate to support the lesson or make the point.
  4. The effect of the use on the market for or value of the work. Many libraries limit e-reserves access to students within the institution or within a particular class or classes. Many also use technology to restrict and/or block access to help ensure that only registered students access the content. Libraries generally terminate students' access to electronic systems at the end of a relevant term (i.e., semester, quarter or year) or after the students have completed the course.


  • Many e-reserves systems include core and supplemental materials. Limiting e-reserves solely to supplemental readings is not necessary because potential harm to the market is considered regardless of the status of the material.
  • Libraries may determine that if the first three factors clearly show fair use, the fourth factor does not weigh as heavily.