Services > Interlibrary Loan > Fair Use and Copyright Information

Information about how the Sherrod Library balances fair use with the rights of copyright holders

Researchers and students in an academic setting may use material under copyright under fair use guidelines, but copyright holders also have a right to be compensated for use of their intellectual property. This is a complex area of American and international law. The Sherrod Library follows published guidelines to protect both parties.

Fair Use:
The public has the right to use limited portions of a work for criticism, commentary, or academic purposes. This was codified as Section 107 of The Copyright Act of 1976.
An author or publisher has the right to be compensated for use of material that they publish. Laws in the United States limit the number of years that a work can remain under copyright.
Balancing copyright and fair use: "Rule of Fives"
The Sherrod Library, a member of the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), follows the CONTU "rule of fives" guidelines. Each year, we will order up to five recent articles (within the past five years) from each journal for all members of the University community. After the fifth recent article in any given journal, we check to see if the journal publisher has established a standard fee with the CCC that they want to receive as compensation for use of their copyrighted material. This fee can range from as low as $3.00 to $110 per article. The Interlibrary Loan Office, as always, will ask a patron if they are willing to pay this fee before placing a request.

For further information about fair use or copyright, please contact Alison DePollo, Interlibrary Loan Librarian, at 423-439-6998 or

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