University of Southern California

Library Reserves and Copyright

The library places materials on class reserve with the understanding that the course instructor has complied with the US 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 General Copyright Policies

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

  • A print version of any copyrighted material to be scanned for eReserve has been lawfully acquired by the submitter.
  • A print version of any copyrighted material to be scanned for eReserve has been provided to the library by the submitter.
  • No more than nine copyrighted items per course may be placed on reserve each semester without publisher permission.


  • 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’ which permits the making of copies for copyrighted material for classroom use, as long as the four determining fair use factors are considered. The four factors are: 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. The fair use factors are only guidelines; no specific rules are provided. The University of Indiana has created a copyright guide to help you determine if use of a copyrighted item qualifies as fair use.

If use of an item does not qualify under the fair use provision, or you wish to use an item for multiple semesters, you must obtain permission from the copyright holder.


Obtaining Permission

If the Item is Held in the Norris Medical Library Collection

Books: Books in our general 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 our collection may be added to the eReserves system for one semester without permission. You must supply the library with a copy of the chapter. Use of multiple chapters from one book requires permission.

Journal Article: A copy of a single article from a journal in our print collection may be added to the eReserves system for one semester without permission. You must provide the library with a copy of the article. 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.

If the Item is Not Held 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. You may have to modify the letter to accommodate 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 items for which you are seeking permission, and 2) a self-addressed envelope.

USC Bookstore Custom Publishing: The Bookstore’s Custom Publishing department can help you obtain copyright permission.

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 the library Access Services office at (323) 442-1126 or

Revised 9/17/12


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