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The official policies of the SUNY Potsdam College Libraries

Copyright Guidelines


The College Libraries integrates policies and procedures into its service functions to ensure both internal compliance with copyright law and effective communication with library patrons regarding their rights and responsibilities related to copyright in the context of library resources and services.

Copyright is a consideration in five key library service areas: Interlibrary loan; Reserves; Copying equipment for print and electronic materials; Listening and viewing facilities; and College Archives and Special Collections. In addition, there are some special provisions in regard to music.

Library policies and procedures related to copyright issues are informed both by copyright law and by other documents designed to assist in appropriately applying the law. This document summarizes that context and articulates the rights and responsibilities in each of the service areas for three different groups: general patrons (i.e. students, faculty and staff, community members), faculty in their particular role as instructors, when applicable, and library personnel to ensure appropriate compliance by the libraries and effective communication with patrons and with faculty in their specific role.

The Law and Interpretation Guidelines

Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17 USC) extends five fundamental rights to copyright owners – the exclusive rights of reproduction, adaptation, publication, performance and display (Section 106). Notwithstanding these owner rights, fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research is not considered an infringement. However, not all use is "fair use." For a clear explanation of "fair use" see the web site called copyright crash course at the University of Texas.

Numerous court decisions have shaped the definition of fair use. At the very least, fair use is determined by consideration of all of the following four factors:

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

Compliance under one of the factors does not preclude consideration of any of the other factors in determining fair use. For example, using copies of chapters from a textbook —an educational use (factor 1) – may negatively impact sales of that work (factor 4) and therefore not be considered a "fair use".

The development of these factors was a major achievement of the revisions to the act in 1976. Additionally, the Copyright Act of 1976 established Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions and Guidelines for Education Uses of Music, as well as establishing limitations on copyright owners' exclusive rights to allow reproduction by libraries and archives (Section 108). These are described in the 24p. document Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians - Adobe PDF. Subsequently, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) - Adobe PDF and The TEACH Act (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act) have significantly amended the act to ensure copyright protections in the electronic environment.

In order to provide guidance on interpretation of fair use and library exemptions, courts have also relied on the reports of two Congressional conference committees – The Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) and The Conference on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU).

These documents provide the context in which the College Libraries have established policies and procedures.

Interlibrary Loan

Copyright becomes a consideration for interlibrary loan service when a copy of the item requested is supplied to the user rather than the item itself. This is standard practice both to provide access to information that normally may not be available for loan such as for periodical articles and reference information, and to speed delivery and reduce cost for shorter units of information such as book chapters.

Patron impact

Copies of copyrighted works are provided only when the user attests that their purpose in requesting the material is for personal study, scholarship, or research needs.

Further distribution of copies of copyrighted works received through interlibrary loan is a violation of the copyright law.

Faculty impact

Photocopies of articles or other material received through interlibrary loan may not be placed on Reserve for student use unless copyright permission is obtained or a copyright fee is paid.

Library impact

A warning concerning copyright restrictions is prominently displayed on all interlibrary loan request forms.

SUNY Potsdam will not make requests for copies to other libraries on behalf of a SUNY Potsdam patron if there is reason to believe the request will violate the copyright law;

The SUNY Potsdam Libraries' will only fulfill requests for copies of copyrighted works to another library when the requesting library indicates copyright compliance.

Copies made in the context of SUNY Potsdam's document delivery/interlibrary loan service will display the appropriate copyright notice.

SUNY Potsdam Libraries will order replacement pages for library-owned resources through interlibrary loan only after determining through a reasonable investigation that a copy cannot be obtained at a fair market price.

It will clearly state in its requests to potential lenders that the pages are for replacement and that a fair market search has been conducted.

Library Reserve Collections

Copyright becomes a consideration for Reserve services when a faculty member requests that a copy of a publication rather than the publication itself be placed on reserve. This is standard practice both to provide access to multiple copies when demand is expected to be high and to provide access to publications when the original is not owned by either the library or the faculty member requesting the reserve service.

Original, legally-obtained materials may be placed on reserve under the provisions of the First Sale Doctrine. Copies made from items in the Public Domain do not require permission. Persistent links to resources in electronic databases licensed for College use are not copies.

Acknowledgement is not the same as permission. How publishers grant permission varies widely. See Copyright Tips for Faculty.

Patron impact

Students are the primary patrons of reserve services; in general, when they make a single copy of reserve material for their personal use, they are in compliance with the Fair Use provisions of the copyright law.

Faculty impact

Faculty members are expected to consider the basic copyright issues that may pertain when copies are placed on reserve; See Copyright Tips for Faculty. Faculty members are responsible for taking appropriate steps to ensure copies they place on reserve are in compliance with copyright law, including requesting permission from a copyright holder or paying a copyright fee; When placing copies on reserve, faculty are required to indicate that they have considered the copyright requirements that pertain to their materials and are using copies under fair use guidelines or have obtained permission for their use.

Library impact

Copies placed on reserve will be processed only when accompanied by a request form that includes a signed copyright acknowledgement by the instructor. All copies placed on reserve will be stamped with a copyright warning. In order to facilitate the efficient processing of materials for reserve, library staff will consider the first use of a copy by an instructor as meeting the requirements for spontaneity. Staff may place copies of articles on reserve that are available in periodicals owned by the library in order to facilitate access. Material that cannot be placed on reserve without copyright violation (e.g. consumables; copies obtained through Interlibrary loan services) will be returned to the instructor with an explanation. Staff may request proof of permission for material that clearly requires permission for use (i.e. subsequent use) All copies that have been on reserve during a semester will be returned to the instructor accompanied by a letter that explains the need and how to obtain permission for subsequent use.

Copying Equipment for Print and Electronic Materials

The Libraries provide public access to equipment (e.g. photocopiers, scanners, and computers) that can be used to make copies of print and electronic material. Provision of this access does not relieve an individual of their responsibility for complying with the copyright law.

Patron impact

Patrons are responsible for any violation of copyright law when they use equipment provided by the College Libraries on which copies can be made, whether the copies are print or digital. Library impact

Signs are placed on all machines capable of copying materials in any format, alerting the user to their responsibility regarding the copyright law.

Listening and Viewing Facilities

Moving pictures (e.g. videos, DVDs) and sound recordings are subject to restrictions on public performance. College Libraries provides listening and viewing facilities solely to accommodate student access to library materials.

Patron impact

Group use of listening and viewing facilities is limited to SUNY Potsdam students who are using the facilities for specific course assignments.

Library impact

Signs are placed on all group viewing and listening facilities designating their use for SUNY Potsdam students who are using the facilities for specific course assignments.

Archives and Special Collections

Unpublished material, as well as published material, is subject to the copyright law. General guidelines about use of unpublished works can be found under the heading, Never Published, Never Registered Works at the following website: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States.

The copyright to a document is separate from the document itself, so while the archives holds unpublished materials from a variety of sources, the College does not necessarily own the copyright for those sources.

Patron impact

Copyright restrictions can vary item by item. The archivist should be queried on a case by case basis to determine whether copying (photocopying or scanning) is permissible

When intellectual ownership resides with someone other than the college, the patron is responsible for contacting the owner of the intellectual content to secure permission to use the resource beyond that covered by fair use; The College may also refuse to grant the copying of any materials in Archives and Special Collections when document or collection integrity may be compromised by doing so; To receive copies of some unpublished materials, the patron may be required to sign a use agreement which indicates exactly how the material may be used (example: print or digital images)

Faculty Impact

Faculty who wish to have original student work placed in the archives collection may need signed permission of the student or students

Library impact

The College Libraries will, to the degree possible, maintain information about the copyright owners for unpublished work in its Archives and Special Collections;

The College Libraries will, to the degree possible, seek partial or full rights to unpublished material in the Archives and Special Collections in order to further the use of that material for scholarship.


Printed music and sound recordings are subject to the same Copyright Laws and Guidelines described above. The National Association for Music Education (MENC) maintains a web page United States Copyright Law: A Guide for Music Educators. The unique use of music is acknowledged and music educators can do several things, without having secured permission of the copyright owner.

Faculty Impact

Faculty can make a copy of a lost part in an emergency, if it is replaced with a purchased part in due course. Faculty can make a single recording of a student performance for study and for the school's archive. Faculty can make a single recording of aural exercises or tests using copyrighted material owned by the library.


Copyright Tips for Faculty

Copies for Reserve

The College Libraries use the Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians - Adobe PDF "Page 6 Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying" to determine the fair use of materials placed on reserve. These guidelines require that material meet minimal standards for:

  • Brevity – length of articles (up to 2500 words) and portion of work (no more than 10%) are examples of the definitions provided.
  • Spontaneity – the decision to use the material is too close to the time of use to obtain permission.
  • Cumulative effect – sets limits on number of articles from the same source and number of items copied for a single course.

In addition, copies made for reserve may never:

  • Create, replace or substitute for an anthology or collected work.
  • Copies cannot be "grouped" into reading packets on reserve. This is considered to constitute an anthology.
  • Be made from "consumables" such as workbooks.
  • Be copies obtained through Interlibrary loan. Substitute for the purchase of books, periodicals, scores or media.
  • Be repeated, such as the same article for the same instructor from semester to semester.

Obtaining Permission

Permission for use is at the discretion of the copyright owner who is often the publisher. Publisher websites frequently include information on obtaining permission. Some association web sites may offer permission for educational use. Many copyright owners broker their permissions through the Copyright Clearance Center Faculty may contact the library reserves office at 315- 267-2487 for more information.


Crumb Library: 315-267-2485
Crane Library: 315-267-2451

Text Us!: 315-277-3730

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SUNY Potsdam College Libraries
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Potsdam, NY 13676