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Copyright & Fair Use

Copyright and Fair Use Policy

Northeastern State University recognizes and adheres to federal copyright law and guidelines. Copyright law applies to the use, performance, and display of copyrighted works. All members of the university community—faculty, staff, and students—are expected to obtain permission from copyright owners for uses protected by copyright law.

The Constitution of the United States endows Congress with the power to “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”  

The Copyright Act of 1976 provides “authors [and creators] of original works protection for their intellectual property in any work exhibiting minimal creativity and fixed in a tangible mode of expression.” One no longer needs to apply for a copyright in order to have her/his/their work protected under the law. Copyright protections cover published or unpublished intellectual property in all formats and media by authors, artists, composers, and creators. 

The unauthorized use of a copyrighted work is copyright infringement and violators may be subject to civil and criminal penalties under federal law. Fines range from $30,000 - $150,000 depending on the nature and extent of the infringement.

NSU Libraries Copyright Policy prohibits the following: 

  • Copying and/or distribution of copyrighted work that exceeds the limits established in the Fair Use Doctrine. 
  • Illegal downloading, installing, or sharing the copyrighted electronic work of others.   

The general rule is that copyrighted work may not be appropriated by others through duplication or dissemination without the creator’s permission. There are exceptions to copyright restrictions that apply to academic institutions. These exceptions fall under the Fair Use Doctrine in the law. 

NSU Libraries support the use of copyrighted work that falls under the Fair Use Doctrine, which is codified in Section 107 of the Copyright Act. This statute establishes that the use of a copyrighted work “for purposes such as criticism, comment…teaching, scholarship, or research” is fair use. Note however, that this use is not limitless. 

For the use of copyrighted work to qualify as fair use under the statute, the following factors must be considered: 

  • 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; and  
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. 

Please note:

  • The Guidelines for Fair Use contain a number of further restrictions, including that an item may not be copied again by the same teacher for use in a subsequent term. This pertains to physical and digital copies in face-to-face and online courses. 

NSU Libraries support the right to use copyrighted materials outlined in the exemptions for fair use in face-to-face teaching, online teaching, research, and library circulation of materials. The library is committed to educating its community of users on the legal and ethical uses of copyrighted work.

Film Use Policy

NSU Libraries support the viewing/showing of films for educational purposes. The viewing or showing of films outside of personal use is governed by United States Copyright Law. All faculty, staff, and students are required to meet the conditions stipulated in the Fair Use Doctrine when using film. This policy applies to both physical media such as CDs and DVDs, and electronic media such as any video streaming service or source.

The unauthorized use of a copyrighted work is copyright infringement and violators may be subject to civil and criminal penalties under federal law. Fines range from $30,000 - $150,000 depending on the nature and extent of the infringement.

For the use of film to qualify as a fair use exemption from copyright restrictions, the use must meet all of the following conditions:

  • The use of the film must be related to a course, its content, or learning outcomes. 
  • The entire audience must be involved in the teaching activity. 
  • The entire audience must be in the same room (if in a face-to-face course) and must be students in the related course or faculty/staff members. 
  • Teaching activities must accompany the film and must be conducted by a non-profit educational institution. 
  • The film viewing must take place in a classroom or similar place (physical or virtual) devoted to instruction. 
  • The faculty member responsible for the film use must have no reason to believe that the DVD or streaming video was unlawfully made or made available. 

Additional conditions pertaining to online courses:

  • Use a link to a video rather than making and posting digital copies. This ensures that the film is still available with permission from the copyright holder. 
  • If copying a brief portion of a video, make sure the copy meets the requirements applicable to text copying, primarily brevity and purpose. 
  • Use streaming video that limits a student’s ability to download, copy, or redistribute the material. 
  • Provide attribution to the copyright owner. 

If a use of film does not meet all of the requirements above, it is not protected or lawful under the Fair Use exemption. Faculty, staff, or students who show films not meeting these conditions must obtain copyright permission.

Reserves Policy

NSU Libraries’ Reserves Service provides students with access to supplementary materials designated by the faculty to assist in meeting their course objectives. The goal of the department is to provide equal access to all students for high-use and on-demand materials. These materials have a shorter loan period than regular library items. 

Reserves Collections

  • Course Reserves: Materials chosen by faculty/staff and placed on reserve for instructional use in registered courses. Reserve materials may include articles, books, magazines, class notes, artifacts, and videos.
  • Permanent Reserves: Selected materials continuously placed on reserve. These materials require strict circulation rules due to high usage and demand. Library faculty select the materials for this location, which includes materials such as the University Annual Budget, preparatory materials for the GED, CPA, MCAT, and GRE exams, and other study guide material.  
  • Equipment Reserves: Technology and other non-media material including dry erase marker sets, headphones for library computers, DVD players, laptops, cameras, and portable charging stations. Only laptops, cameras, and charging stations may circulate outside the library.
  • Model Reserves: Anatomical models, microscopes, and slides for use by students in biology and human anatomy courses. Models may only be used inside the library directly outside the reserves desk.

General Guidelines for Instructors

  • A completed Reserve Request form must accompany all reserve items. 
  • Reserve requests are processed in the order received. Processing time for reserve items will vary depending on the type and amount of materials. Most requests are processed within three business days of submission. Please do not refer students to materials immediately after submitting a request.
  • In order to comply with copyright law, materials on reserve must be intended for educational use only and must be removed or copyright permission reacquired by the faculty/staff requesting the reserve, at the end of every semester.
  • Submitting and signing a Reserve Request form indicates acceptance of the conditions in the statement of copyright compliance that accompanies the form.  
  • If you have any questions, please contact the Reserve Supervisor in Tahlequah at 918-444-3207 or in Broken Arrow at 918-449-6457.

What Types of Materials Can Be Placed on Reserve?

  • Items owned by the library or an instructor’s personal copy
  • Books [whole books may be placed on reserve for in-library or check out use.]
  • Book chapters [One single chapter or the equivalent of 10% of a book may be scanned and placed on reserve.]
    • If scanned by the instructor, book chapters must be accompanied by publication information to ensure appropriate cataloging and to ensure that guidelines listed above are met. 
  • Articles
    • If the article is available in a library database such as EBSCO, please do not use Reserves. Instead, provide a persistent link to your students.  Assistance in doing this is available through the Reserve Assistant or the Subject Librarian for the instructor’s department. 
  • If a copy of an article is needed for another semester, copyright permission must be provided by the faculty/staff submitting the request
  • Commercially published Audio/Visual Media 
  • Original compositions by faculty or students [with their permission]
  • Tests

What Items Cannot Be Placed on Reserve?

  • Materials owned by other institutions [e.g., books from ILL]
  • Copies of videos/CDs/DVDs that lack the permission of the copyright holder for this type of use [e.g., personal recording of a TV show]
  • Rare books and fragile items
  • A series of copies, even with individual copyright permissions, whose purpose is to avoid the purchase of a textbook for the course.
  • No more than two physical copies of a single item can be placed on reserve.


“While library faculty/staff are available to provide guidance in the use of copyrighted materials in relation to Northeastern State University Libraries’ services, we do not provide legal advice or serve as a substitute for consultation with competent legal counsel on matters regarding compliance with copyright law.”  

It is the policy of the Northeastern State University Libraries to follow the provisions of the copyright law.   Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship.  One of the rights given to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies.  This right is subject to certain limitation, such as “fair use.”  The limitations and exceptions do not require permission from the copyright owner, but all other uses require permission.