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Fair Use Guidelines for Closed Online Classrooms: Course Reserves

This guide provides information on how to assess fair use for inclusion of materials in a course that is only available to students enrolled in the course (closed online classroom). It also provides links to helpful resources on open educational resources

Information about Course Reserves for Fall 2020

Course Reserves during Fall 2020

In order to avoid the spread of COVID-19, all print course reserves will be quarantined for a period of 3 days. This will limit students’ access to the materials, so we strongly recommend pursuing other options. 

Online Textbooks for Multiple Users via the Library

Many textbooks have been acquired electronically by the library and can be linked in your syllabus and/or on Canvas. You can find a list of available online textbooks at the University Libraries Online Textbook Guide.

If you do not find your textbook listed, your library liaison can help investigate online access to the texts you want to assign and potentially suggest alternatives if there is no library e-resource available for your assigned text.

Efforts will be made to secure online materials that are free from digital rights management restrictions (DRM) in order to ensure unfettered student access. DRM includes limits on the number of users that can access a resource at any one time, as well as limits on copying, printing and downloading.

Scanning Portions of Textbooks

If a digital alternative to your desired text is unavailable and the reading you wish to assign is brief, you can submit a request for a single chapter of a text to be scanned by library staff. One chapter per textbook can be requested as a PDF to distribute via Canvas to your students. Please see the Copyright Policy for Reserves for more details.

If you would like to make more than one chapter available, you can evaluate your use under the fair use provision to determine the appropriate and legal amount to scan on your own. 

If scanning portions of copyrighted texts, please also comply with university policy and the law by ensuring the scanned copy is accessible. One way of doing this is ensuring the scanned copy has optical character recognition (OCR); many scanners OCR text automatically now as do many apps, such as Adobe Scan (free). See the Virginia Tech Accessibility Portal for more resources, support, and contact information.

Consider Alternatives

We are working with instructors to explore and identify viable textbook alternatives, including:

  1. Using an existing e-book in the relevant subject area from the library’s e-book collection or requesting that the library purchase one. There are many academic e-books that aren’t considered textbooks, and are therefore available for the library to purchase.

  2. Adopting an open educational resource (OER). OER are freely available educational materials that are openly licensed to allow for re-use and modification by instructors.

  3. Creating an online course pack by:

    • Posting individual book chapters or excerpts and scanned copies of the content, subject to copyright limitations. 

    • Using and/or adapting OER potentially in conjunction with other copyrighted and/or library-licensed content

    • Linking to content from the library’s existing collection of electronic resources (e-books, journal articles, streaming media, and other digital materials) or acquiring new content whenever possible.

Adapted with permission from the University of Guelph.