Copyright Q & A | University of Portland

Copyright Q & A

May I scan and upload journal articles or book chapters to my Moodle course pages?

No. It is important to avoid placing the University at risk of a lawsuit by disregarding copyright requirements or the terms of our license agreements. Library staff can help faculty avoid copyright and license agreement violations by determining whether or not we have ownership and/or confirming the terms of a database license.

We can also seek permission on behalf of a faculty member and pay necessary royalties for materials placed on course reserves. Turn-around time for processing course reserve materials is usually 3 days.

Do you have more questions? Consult with Library Staff: 503.943.7111 or

May I make multiple copies of a journal article or a book chapter to use in my class (so that each student has a copy)?

It is the policy on the UP campus to seek permission for multiple classroom copies. An instructor may copy a complete article for their own use in class but permission should be obtained before making a copy for each student. An instructor may copy a 2,500 word excerpt from a journal article or a 1,000-word excerpt from a book chapter for each student without permission.

What if there’s no time to seek permission?

The Print Shop can request permissions immediately via the University's account with the Copyright Clearance Center. The Center has pre-permissions on file for literally thousands of titles, but if your need is so immediate that there is no time to ask permission it is permissible to make copies for classroom use as long as the brevity guidelines defined on page 6 of Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians are followed.

I wrote an article that was published in a journal. May I make copies without getting permission?

Not necessarily. Most journals require authors to sign away their copyright ownership. If this is the case, you would need to determine if this was a fair use or whether permission should be sought. For the Print Shop to make multiple copies you would need to provide proof that you held the copyright before copies would be made without seeking permission.

Some journals have a statement allowing classroom photocopying without permission. Will the Print Shop copy these for me?

If you present the statement at the time of ordering, the Print Shop will copy the articles for you.

The book I ordered from the bookstore for my class won’t be in for 2 weeks. Can I make copies of the first few chapters for my class until the book arrives?

Yes. Assuming that your students will purchase the book when it arrives, it would be permissible to copy the first few chapters until the book arrives.

How do I know if “Fair Use” can be applied to the materials I wish to use?

One method is to consider the "Four Factors":
  • The Purpose and character of the use
  • The Nature of the copyrighted work
  • The Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The Crews/Buttler "Checklist for Fair Use" is a helpful tool to consult and gives a more detailed discussion of each factor.

How many chapters from any one book may I place on reserve?

The real question is how many chapters can be placed on reserve at no cost? If we pay royalties to the publisher we can place almost anything on reserve (although there are some publishers who flatly refuse to give permission for electronic use of their materials)

Whether or not we are able to place items on reserves without paying royalties or seeking permission from the publisher depends on the application of the four factors (see previous answer about "Fair Use"). Generally, the library consults the copyright brevity guidelines defined on page 6 of Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians which stipulate 1 chapter or 10% of the work, whichever is less. However, slight deviations from the guidelines have sometimes been made if an application of the four factors seems to favor Fair Use. Faculty members shouldn't necessarily consider this a deterrent - we are always happy to seek permission and pay a reasonable sum for royalties - and in fact are occasionally surprised at the low end cost.

We’d like to show a video to two classes at the same time but only have one copy of the video. Can we make a copy to show for that one class and then destroy it?

It is a violation of copyright law to duplicate a commercial video that is available for purchase. You should purchase a second copy or schedule the second class at a different time.

Can I place a video I taped off-air on reserve for a class?

Yes, if it was taped less than 45 days ago, it can be placed on reserve for 10 days. If you need the video for a longer period of time or wish to use it again, you should ask the library to purchase a copy for the collection.

I’d like to place a link on my course page to an article in a database that the library subscribes to. Is there a copyright issue that prevents this?

Linking to a web site has more to do with licensing agreements than copyright. Generally we always attempt to obtain licenses that allow this. However, it's a good idea to check at the Reference Desk to make sure the link you're formulating will work from off-campus. Instructions for how to modify links to work from off-campus are available on the Persistent Links to Library Resources guide.