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Copyright and E-Resource Licensing Restrictions


Issues of copyright today are complex and continually evolving. While library staff can provide support in interpreting B.C. policies, for legal advice about the application of copyright law in specific situations, please contact Joseph M. Herlihy, General Counsel ( or Nora E. Field, Associate Counsel ( Library policies regarding use of copyright materials are based on current intellectual property law however, neither those policies nor the links to external resources included in this site constitute legal advice.


Use of Copyrighted Material for Course Reserves

The Libraries' policy for placing photocopied or scanned images of published copyrighted materials on Course Reserve is derived from the fair use provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the law outlines these factors to be considered:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

Course packets: When a large number of articles are needed for a course or when materials are restricted by copyright and require permission from the publisher before being placed on Course Reserve, course packs may be created as an alternative. The Course Pack Coordinator at the bookstore will obtain permissions from individual publishers. Once permissions are obtained the course packet will be sold at the bookstore like any other textbook for the convenience of students.


Public Performance Rights - O'Neill Library Media Center Classroom

Policies for obtaining public performance rights for audiovisual material used in the classrooms are:

  • Face-to-face Classroom Instruction
    Audiovisual materials may be used in room 211 as part of regular face-to-face classroom instruction without seeking the copyright owner's permission for performance or display. As such, the presence of a faculty member or teaching assistant is required at each class meeting/audiovisual showing in order to satisfy educational fair use conditions.
  • Use by Groups or Clubs
    Groups, clubs and the like wishing to use audiovisual materials in room 211 must first obtain the public performance rights for those audiovisual materials from the copyright owner unless those rights were purchased along with said audiovisual materials -- often the case with institutional purchases from educational vendors (e.g. Films for the Humanities & Sciences). Individuals and groups can find assistance obtaining public performance rights by contacting Contact Media Technology Services’ Film Rental Specialist at 617-552-3242.

Another option for faculty to request classroom space is through Student Services. Please see their website for policies and procedures.

To confirm, or arrange for, screening equipment in classrooms other than O’Neill Room 211, contact Media Technology Services Classroom Support Services.


Boston College Policies and Guidelines

Boston College Technology Policy: "Copyright Issues"
The "Copyright Issues" section of the policy asks "all members of the University community… to comply with the copyright laws and the provisions of the licensing agreements" applicable to print and electronic works and other media. It also goes over the "works for hire" policy that grants the university ownership of technological resources developed by members of the B.C. community "as part of their normal employment activities."

Boston College Legal and Copyright Compliance Notices
From the office of the Boston College general counsel, legal and policy notices regarding B.C. copyright compliance policies and refers users to additional resources.

Copyright and Course Management with Blackboard Vista
The BC Instructional Design and eTeaching group gives helpful information about copyright related to teaching with Blackboard Vista.

Topics in Responsible Conduct of Research: Publication Practices
The Responsible Conduct of Research Program presents links to resources regarding responsible authorship and citation.



Fair Use and Copyright - Additional Resources

Copyright Information for Educators and Librarians
This circular includes "basic information on some of the most important legislative provisions and other documents" having to do with librarians' and educators' reproduction of copyrighted materials under fair use doctrine.

Checklist for Fair Use
Use this form created by the University of Minnesota to document circumstances favoring and opposing fair use of a copyrighted work. 

Copyright and Fair Use
The Stanford University Libraries produced this site, which offers in-depth introductory information and a rich set of links about fair use and other topics in intellectual property.

Copyright Clearance Center
Offers a number of online permission services to help you "get permission to reproduce copyrighted content such as articles and book chapters in your journals, photocopies, coursepacks, library reserves, websites, e-mail and more."

When Works Pass into the Public Domain
This chart offers easy reference for the duration of a work's copyright protection. It was created by Lolly Gasaway, director of the Law Library at the University of North Carolina.


Electronic Resources Licensing Restrictions

Most electronic resources are governed by license agreements which restrict use to the Boston College community and to on-site users of the Boston College Libraries for the purposes of research, teaching, and scholarly study. It is the responsibility of each user to ensure that he or she uses these products only for individual, noncommercial use without systematically downloading, distributing, or retaining substantial portions of information. Acceptable use forbids downloading contents of entire issues of journals, several chapters of online books, or significant portions of databases. The use of software such as scripts, agents, or robots, is generally prohibited and may result in loss of access to these resources for the entire Boston College community.  For more information, please visit: