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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Copyright & Fair Use

A guide & list of resources for EWU faculty, staff & students regarding copyright & fair use.

When do I use Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) should be used to supplement our own collection. We request books, articles and other materials that EWU does not own or has no access to. Requests should be for research purposes and for personal use only. 

ILL should not be used for Course Reserves - most libraries lend a book under the assumption that it is for individual use only. Please use the following Guide for placing Course Reserve requests.

Important Copyright Information

Compliance with Copyright Law in Interlibrary Loan

By registering to use interlibrary loan services and submitting requests for materials, users accept responsibility for complying with United States Copyright Law.


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of those specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research". If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use", that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgement, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

How does copyright work in ILL?

Interlibrary loan services are allowed to obtain copyrighted material from other libraries if that material is intended  for private study and research. It may not be shared with others or used for profit. Faculty may not use interlibrary loan services to request materials for course reserve. Copyright permissions are obtained and fees paid on any material that exceeds the amounts specified by the CONTU guidelines which aid the interpretation of U.S. copyright law.

This is just a very brief introduction to copyright as it applies it interlibrary loan. Copyright rules are quite complicated.

Journal articles:

Copyright fees apply after we receive more than five articles per journal title per calendar year for journals published within the last five years. (This is the "rule-of-five" from the CONTU guidelines). For publications more than five years old staff determine what total quantity of copying is appropriate.

If one person orders two or more articles from a single recent journal issue then copyright fees also apply. We usually cannot order complete journal issues via interlibrary loan. If you wish to see an entire issue, please contact the ILL department, and staff will investigate if it is possible to borrow or purchase the issue.

Eastern Washington University library pays the copyright fees for copies received on behalf of our students, faculty and researchers. Copyright fees per article can vary a great deal from journal to journal, ranging from about $10 to $60 or more, $30-$40 is usual.

Book chapters:

Copyright also applies to copies of book chapters. If you need more than one chapter please order the actual book instead.


We do not pay interlibrary loan copyright fees for materials that Eastern owns, for most government documents, or for Open Access materials.

Books published in the United States prior to 1923 are copyright-free (these are in the public domain).

Database Licensing

EWU students, staff, and faculty have access to many online resources (Databases A-Z) and each has its own licensing agreement. Some allow us to freely distribute content to other libraries and institutions while others have strict rules in place about what can and cannot be shared. Listed below are some of these resources:

Databases with ILL privileges:



Directory of Open Access Journals

IEEE/IET Electronic Library (IEL)



ScienceDirect (Elsevier)

Taylor & Francis


Databases with no ILL privileges:



Contact Us

Interlibrary Loan:

Hours: 8:30am–5:00pm, M–F

Phone: 509-359-2492


Fax: 509-359-6456

Problems or emergencies:

Contact the ILL department during business hours. If you need to report a problem after 5:00pm or during the weekend, please contact the Circulation Desk: 509-359-7888