Reserves and Copyright

Learn more about the impact of copyright on Emory Libraries Course Reserves.

Table of Contents


All content placed on Course Reserves must comply with U.S. Copyright Law. No one should post content consisting of copyrighted content or portions of copyrighted content without first:

  • determining that the content falls within the public domain;
  • obtaining permission from the copyright owner; or
  • determining, after a reasonable analysis, that the content is a fair use for which permission is not required.

If you are interested in posting content (journal articles, book chapters, multimedia, etc.) for which you do not own the copyright in Canvas, please work through the Course Reserves system. Reserves staff will review the content and assist you with permissions, fair use, public domain, and other issues. The Libraries will seek and pay permissions when needed.

For more information, contact the Reserves Team in Woodruff Library or the Reserves unit in your library.

Public Domain 

The public domain is content not protected by copyright. Anyone can use public domain content without permission.

How do you know if something is in the public domain?

  • Any content published in the United States prior to 1929 is in the public domain; or
  • Any content created by an employee of the U.S. Federal Government, in their official capacity, is in the public domain regardless of the year of creation or publication

For unpublished or foreign content, please refer to Cornell University Library's Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States.


What if the content you want to share is not in the public domain? Content protected by copyright can be posted on Course Reserves either as a fair use or with permission from the copyright owner.

If Reserves staff determine content on Course Reserves exceeds our guidelines, the Libraries will seek and pay applicable permissions fees on the content as a service for the faculty and students. The Libraries have a special fund to pay for permissions for Course Reserves to support classroom instruction.

Content from Databases and eJournals 

Want to share an article from an Emory Libraries database or electronic journal? Emory Libraries Reserves Policy asks that you link to any database or electronic journal content.

The Emory Libraries provide access to databases and electronic journals through subscriptions with vendors. The Libraries license agreement with each vendor specifies how faculty, staff, and students can use the content in the database or ejournal, including whether or not content may be downloaded and re-posted to an electronic course reserves system. Since there are so many licenses to consider, we ask that you link rather than downloading the PDF and uploading it into Course Reserves.

Reserves staff review uploaded content and will change uploaded licensed content to links or remove it.

Content from the Web 

When including web resources, simply link to the webpage from Course Reserves. Linking is preferable to scanning or making a digital copy.

You should assume that all content published on the web is copyrighted. Therefore, unless the webpage specifies that anyone can use the work in any way, assume that “all rights are reserved.”

Faculty Created Content 

Faculty created content can be included in Course Reserves as long as the faculty member retained copyright to the content. This content includes exams, quizzes, course notes, course syllabi, journal articles and book chapters.

Many publishers use author agreements which require that all rights, including copyright, transfer to the publisher. If you transferred your copyright to the publisher, we may have to ask their permission to post your journal article or book chapter in Course Reserves.

For more information about copyright, fair use, or permissions, please see the Emory Libraries Scholarly Communications Office.