The Media Library of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership is piloting a new service add-on for digital course reserves for high schools. Teachers can place required texts on reserve for student use via online reading or offline downloads to supported reading devices, tablets, and computers. This service is made possible by the fair use section of the US Copyright Law; all users must agree to follow the guidelines and copyright requirements.
Guiding Principles for the Service
It is presumed that most materials selected for inclusion in the reserves are copyrighted. As such, the usage must fall under fair use:
- The primary intention for placing a material on digital reserve is pedagogical need within an established high school course.
- Only the teacher of record for a high school course can submit a digital course reserve request as only the teacher can determine a requirement of pedagogical need.
- The teacher submitting a request must perform a fair use assessment to determine if the material can be included under fair use.
- Only required instructional materials can be included, not “additional readings.”
Fair Use Determination
There are two main tests to help determine whether an intended use of copyrighted material would fall under the fair use section of US Copyright Law:
- The use of the work is transformative in nature.
Examples include using a short story that was written for general readership as a text study in a course. Instructional use was not the primary intended use, so your use of the work as instructional material is transformative. Using something that was originally created for instructional use would not be transformative, this is why you cannot include anything from textbooks or workbooks.
- The amount of material included is appropriate.
It would be appropriate to use one story from a collection of stories as a study of an author’s style or form. Without trying to impose artificial quantifiers, a general rule of thumb is that fair use would include a selection like a story, poem, chapter, or other excerpts. Remember the intention is to meet a pedagogical objective; use the least amount appropriate to meeting your instructional goal.