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Online Copyright Compliance Guidelines for Trinity Faculty

The ubiquity and ease of use of web publishing resources and course management systems (CMS, including TLearn) has created the need for increased vigilance against inadvertent infringement of copyright.

Guiding Principles and Policy Statements for Reserves

Statement of Guiding Principles

The Library asserts its Fair Use rights (17 USC § 107*) as a non-profit educational institution while also respecting the intellectual property rights of copyright holders and abiding by all laws governing usage of copyrighted materials.  The Library also seeks to educate the Trinity University community on issues related to copyright within higher education and digital communication, and will encourage the exercise of Fair Use and Open Access among all members of our institutional community.

Statement of Policy


Trinity University Library abides by U.S. copyright law and respects the rights of intellectual property holders while being guided by the Association of Research Libraries’ Code of Best Practices in Fair Use.

I. Practical specifics for library- or ITS-facilitated digital access to copyrighted media content:

Instructors may request that audio or video content be digitized and made streamable through TLearn’s Echo module or place reproductions of copyrighted works on physical or electronic reserve, provided that such reproduction and transmission:


a.  is, in the professional judgment of the supervising instructor, directly relevant to the course’s subject matter and is vital to their pedagogical goals;


b.  is not excessive in amount or substantiality of content (see 3. under “Fair Use”, below);


c.  is wholly password-protected at all times and restricted only to currently enrolled members of the relevant class; if streamed or placed on an electronic course page or learning environment;


d. is removed from all visibility and access upon the cessation of the course; or


e.  is of work(s) in the public domain or licensed under specific terms that mitigate a., b., c., or d., above (eg, Creative Commons), or which are the faculty member’s or institution’s own intellectual property.


Library and or ITS staff will serve as arbiters of the above criteria (except a.) and will keep longitudinal records of all reproductions made and content posted.

* Fair Use (17 USC § 107)

A "four factors" test is used to determine if a proposed use is fair or not.  These factors are:

  1. Purpose of the usage -- Academic uses (education, criticism, commentary, etc.) are easier to defend as 'fair' than commercial uses.  The new ARL Code of Best Practices suggests that educational usage can be considered “transformative” and thus fair.

  2. Nature of the copyrighted work -- Non-commercial or non-fiction/fact-based works (information) are more understandably used fairly than creative fiction (entertainment).

  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used -- A transformative, academic work could conceivably use large portions of an existing copyrighted work for critical or analytical purposes, provided such copying is not excessive and does not effectively “gut” the work of its most significant, substantial content, however small a portion that may be.

  4. Impact on the market value of the work -- Copying should never significantly reduce the rightsholder’s revenue on the work, nor should it ever effectively compete on the market for the work.

An important note about factor #1: The use of the material for academic purposes is not by itself a sufficient justification of Fair Use. The four factors interact with each other and must be considered together; no single one of them "trumps" the other three.

II. Practical specifics for placement of other (non-media) copyrighted material on a course management system (TLearn) by instructors:


The library does not offer an electronic reserve service for the posting of digitized materials whose original publication format was in print. Further, due to library staff limitations and the large volume of digitally reproduced print content that Trinity faculty use in TLearn course pages, the library cannot possibly review and approve every such case for compliance with the requirements listed above. Faculty must therefore assume responsibility for adhering to those guidelines. The Library is always available to assist any member of the Trinity community seeking guidance about copyright issues.