Frequently Asked Questions : Print

1. May I make copies of a Star Tribune cartoon or article to distribute to my class or put on Reserve for the purpose of class discussion?

Answer: Yes, as long as the cartoon or article is not copyrighted, is not taken from a source designed specifically for the educational market, i.e. Scholastic Magazine, and the provisions of spontaneity and brevity have been met (See  classroom use guidelines).  

2. May I create a bound course pack containing all the readings from various sources that the students in my class need to read?

Answer: This is permissible if you have received copyright permission from each of the owners to make this course pack. The staff at Document Services will seek permission for a fee, if given sufficient time. (See classroom use guidelines)

3. A former colleague has written a play I want my students to read. May I put several photocopies of the play on Reserve? If not, how much of the play may I put on Reserve? What can I do to get the whole thing on Reserve?

Answer: If the copyright owner (and the playright is not necessarily the copyright owner) has given permission, yes. If not, you may request permission or put a small excerpt on reserve. (Protected Works.)

4. May I submit the sheet music for a new work to be processed for Electronic Reserve? I did purchase one copy.

Answer: No. Unless you have received permission from the copyright holder this would be a violation since it is not one of the permitted uses. Also, this use does not meet the criteria of the four factors: duplication would affect the income of the copyright holder, and the amount to be copied equals the whole and not a small portion thereof. (Ditto, #3 above)

5. A book I own is out of print. I would like to photocopy half of it and put in on reserve. Is that o.k.?

Answer: No. Copyright protection does not end as a result of an item no longer being in print. All reasonable steps must be taken to determine who is the current copyright holder and action should be taken to contact the holder and request permission to copy. Library staff will take steps to determine the current copyright holder, contact the holder, request permission to use, and pay fees. 

6. There is no copyright notice on my publication, so I can copy freely, right?

Answer: No. Almost everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not. Follow same procedures as in #5.

7. If I download an article from Lexis/Nexis, may I put copies on Reserve? On Electronic Reserves? Can the Electronic Reserve web page for my class simply link to the article? Can I email it to the students in my class?

Answer:  Most databases are copyright protected, and use is defined by specific licenses. Each database license will determine what is possible. Please contact Connie Karlen with specific questions on use. In cases of electronic journals that we subscribe to, we can link to specific articles from Electronic Reserve web pages.

8. I had an article published in a scholarly journal three years ago. I plan to photocopy it and distribute it to my class. This is fair use, right?

Answer: You probably signed over copyright to the journal that published the article and that article is no longer "yours." You may request to put a copy of the published journal version on reserve.

9. May I put one chapter of a book on reserve and a different chapter in my course folder?

Answer: Anything put in a course folder must follow the same copyright guidelines. The answer would therefore be "no." 


Frequently Asked Questions : Multimedia

1.  What do you mean by electronic video distribution? 

Answer: Electronic video is a digitized video file that can be viewed on a computer through a video player, such as Apple’s QuickTime or Microsoft’s Video Player.  Distribution technologies include making said videos available for download through a web browser, video podcast, or streaming media player.  It also includes putting electronic video files into course folders or Moodle.

2.  What is streaming?

Answer: Streaming video is a sequence of "moving images" that are sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer as they arrive. Streaming media is streaming video with sound. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a large file before seeing the video or hearing the sound. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives. (From Search  Video streams are more difficult for users to copy and share without authorization than un-streamed files.

3.  Can I place a video directly on my personal or course website?

Answer: Unless there are no copyright restrictions on the video, no.

Only if If we own the copyright or otherwise have permission the video may be posted. If we do not have specific permission, the posting would have to fall under an exemption such as fair use. Meeting all the fair use conditions in this instance can be difficult. Often, the condition of not harming potential market value is not met. For example, you might not think it would harm sales of a magazine if you scanned a picture from the magazine and then distributed it on the Internet. This could be true, but the magazine itself might wish to sell issues over a computer network in the near future. In this case, your distributing the image takes away potential market value and is an unauthorized reproduction and an unauthorized public display of the work.

Moreover, if a work is distributed via a computer network, one should not assume it is fair game to use for any purpose. Some products on computer networks are made available with copyright notices. Many are not. Liability for unauthorized copying and distribution can extend not only to the person who might post something and their institution but also to those who access, download, and forward the items. In the case of distributing copyrighted materials over a network for educational purposes, fair use would not necessarily cover the action because the teaching is not done in a face-to-face manner. The user would incur any liability for improper use. If you have questions, check with the administrator of the network, bulletin board, or other service where the work is available.  (From Penn State:

4.  How much of a film can I stream?

Answer: The three minutes or 10% restriction has been adopted to comply with Fair Use.

  1. If permission has been obtained to stream an entire video, the entire video will be streamed.
  2. If no permission has been obtained, we are only allowed to distribute three minutes or 10% of the original work will be streamed, whichever is less.

5. May I compile a cd of music from various sources and distribute it to my students or put on reserve for them to copy?

Answer:  The answer to this is "no". 

There is no question that copyright can be confusing and there are many interpretations that can often seem contradictory. We make an attempt to follow the guidelines and law to the best of our understanding. The bottom line is always, when in doubt, request permission from copyright owner.   

6.  What is Fair Use? 

Answer: Please see the fair use section of Macalester’s Copyright site.

7.  Can I stream clips from a commercially available DVD or a Macrovision encrypted VHS tape?

Answer: No.

Other Ways to Share Video
All Media Services materials and your own personal audio visual materials may be placed on reserve at Media Services.  Placing an item on reserve allows students to check it out for a 4 hour time period.  During this time period, students may view the item using the video viewing carrels at Media Services or take it to another location such as the Digital Resource Center or their dorm to watch it.  If an item is checked out near the end of the day, it will be due back the following morning.  Late fees are charged to students who do not return materials on time, thus ensuring they will be available to others in the class who need to view them.  One could also consider reserving one of the Media Services viewing rooms for an evening showing of the movie where all of the students in the class could watch the video together.  For assistance with placing media on reserve and/or reserving a viewing room, please contact the Library Service Desk (
Other Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact your Library Liaison, your AIA, or Media Services.

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