If you’ve been to college in the last decade, you’ve probably dealt with “e-reserves”—book chapters and articles made available electronically to students in particular classes, usually through the university library. But how much material can a professor upload before having to pay a licensing fee?
The issue is notoriously murky; many schools require that printed “course packs” be licensed, though uploading those pieces separately to an e-reserves site doesn’t always trigger licensing. Professors we know have resorted to various tricks—if limited to five e-reserves before having to take a license, they will upload five documents, wait until students have read them, then delete the first five and upload five more. It’s not just about the money, which students would have to cover; it’s about the hassle. E-reserve and course pack licensing can require several months of lead time, and not all professors are (*cough*) ready for an entire semester that far in advance.
This makes publishers unhappy, and some have sued.