Copyright for Reserves

Kenyon College Library and Information Services department (LBIS) recognizes the importance of intellectual property to the creation and dissemination of knowledge. In fulfilling its ethical and legal obligations, Kenyon LBIS strives to comply with copyright laws, regulations and agreements in the responsible use of information for teaching and learning. To that end, Kenyon LBIS seeks to provide a balance between the "fair use" of information for these purposes and the right of the owners of the information to exercise reasonable control of its use.

All members of the Kenyon community should work together to comply with U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Those who disregard the copyright compliance guidelines of Kenyon LBIS place themselves at risk for possible legal action and may incur personal liability. Furthermore, Kenyon LBIS reserves the right to refuse service if, in its judgment, providing that service would involve violation of U.S. copyright law. 

Items covered by copyright

To qualify for copyright protection, a work must be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." This means that the work must exist in some physical form for at least some period of time.  Any form of expression can qualify as a tangible form, from scribbled notes on an envelope, computer code or intricate works of art. 

The works must be an original creation of the author and be the result of at least some creative effort on the part of the author. An example would be the white page’s alphabetical listing of telephone numbers in a phone book versus the yellow pages subject groupings of numbers. Copyright does not protect facts, but it does protect the physical expression of the information in your own words. 

Examples of works protected by copyright:

booksjournal articlesfilms/videospoetry
artmusicmusical performancessoftware
photographsanthologieschoreographed worksstudent works


Copyright Duration

Copyright duration in the U.S. is automatic and extensive. If someone creates an original work, fixing it in a tangible medium of expression, then the copyright will begin upon creation and will not expire until 70 years after the death of the creator.

With corporate authorship, or work for hire, copyright extends to 95 years from publication or 120 years after creation.

Once copyright expires, works enter the public domain. Read more on this Cornell University page on copyright duration and the public domain.

Public Domain

If a work is not protected by copyright it generally means it is in the public domain or was created by the U.S. government. These works may be freely used and copied. If the government contracted a work to be done then it is possible the rightsholder would be outside the government and the work would be under copyright. 

Generally, any work published before 1923 is considered to be in the public domain. After 1922 it gets a bit more complicated to determine whether a work is in the public domain. The copyright slider is a useful tool to determine if a work is still under copyright.

To learn more, visit this educational site on Public Domain

Fair Use

Fair use is one of the exceptions in copyright law which allows for the use of copyrighted materials without obtaining permission, found in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.

The doctrine of fair use weighs four factors when considering the use of intellectual property for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research.  Some believe the Fair Use allows blanket reproduction of copyrighted material for all educators. Others understand that Fair Use is not blanket permission for all educators, but believe there is some kind of Fair Use rule book that specifies exact amounts of content that can be legally reproduced. Neither of these beliefs are true. For material to fall under fair use, each of the four factors must be weighted so that the rights of the copyright holder are balanced with societal needs.

Open Access

Open Access refers to materials that are freely available for purposes of research and scholarship. These materials are typically available online in a digital format, are free of charge to the user, and do not have many of the restrictions of copyright and license agreements.

Licensed Items

License agreements define how and by whom materials may be used. It is considered copyright best practice to post links versus actual content in order to help prevent problems with copyright and licensing restrictions. The main databases that allow linking to reserves are EJC, EbscoHost, and JStor. Other databases may allow linking, but it is best to check the license agreement. If you have questions about licensing or linking, contact Access Services.

General Contract Terms

Contracts are often required by rightholders when copyright permissions are obtained. It is very important read contracts carefully, as all contracts are different and it is important to comply with all terms once signed. Below are some contract terms you may run into when seeking permissions.

  • Set duration of use (this may include requirements such as deleting material after use and no archiving)
  • Password protection with specified number of users
  • Copyright credit must be included
  • Specific guidelines on how the material may be used (downloadable, printable, text can’t be altered, etc.)

It is advised that you keep a record of all correspondence when contacting a rightsholder; this includes contract terms, agreements, and any invoices. Invoices with agreed upon fees should be paid in a timely manner.

Copyright and Multimedia Course Reserves

Items from Kenyon’s audio-visual collection may be used for in-class instruction provided the material pertains in some way to the subject at hand. This material may also be used for class-related supplemental screenings scheduled outside usual class times. This is known as the face-to-face teaching exemption: 

"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following is not an infringement of copyright: (1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made..." (Title 17, U.S.C., Copyrights, Section 110 (1), Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays)

For more information see Copyright, Section 106 & 110.

Kenyon owns a number of documentary films for which the college has pre-paid public performance rights. Feature films held by Kenyon’s library do not include public performance rights. Please see Public Performance Rights (PPR) for Films at Kenyon for more information.