Q: How do I know if the material I put on e-reserves or CMS is a fair use?
A: Principle One in the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries states that "It is fair use to make appropriately tailored course-related content available to enrolled students via digital networks." There are several enhancements and limitations that modify the principle, but the principle itself includes some key guidance.
Copyright law makes some exemptions when copyrighted materials are used for teaching, but there are limitations. Online access and publication have complicated matters further. To help clarify the application of copyright in academic settings, the Association of Research Libraries developed a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. Available as a free PDF, the document includes a practical FAQ section for faculty, from which the above question and answer are excerpted.
Fair use is a broad, flexible doctrine that enables important activities that might fall just beyond the limits of other copyright exceptions. Fair use also allows for important new technological uses that could not have been foreseen by the drafters of the Copyright Act, such as Internet search. This code of best practices identifies eight sets of common current practices in the use of copyrighted materials in and around academic and research libraries, to which the doctrine of fair use can be applied. It articulates principles describing generally how and why fair use applies to each such practice or situation.
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries is available as a free PDF. Download a copy at http://www.arl.org/fairuse