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Supplemental Course Resources (SCR) FAQ

What does the SCR program do?

The UC Merced Library’s Supplemental Course Resources (SCR) Program provides online access to supplemental course materials by making them available through CatCourses.

What doesn't the SCR Program do?

The SCR Program doesn't:

  • digitize entire, or nearly entire, books for the purpose of saving students the cost of purchasing what should be required textbooks
  • violate copyright laws
  • pay unreasonable copyright-compliance fees

What about fair use and copyright compliance?

First of all, it is very important for faculty to understand the following:

  • Faculty can be held personally liable for egregious copyright violations.
  • Publishers are actively looking for copyright violations, especially in the online realm.

While jumping through the Library's hoops to get a few readings posted online may seem like a hassle, the intent is to keep you and the University of California out of trouble while still making information available to students.

The easiest way to avoid the entire question of fair use and copyright compliance is to take advantage of the approximately 10,000 online journals and tens of thousands of online books available through the UC Merced Library and the California Digital Library (CDL). We encourage faculty to explore these resources and use what is already available whenever possible. If you aren’t sure how to find out what is available, contact for assistance.

For information resources that are not already available via the UC Merced Library or CDL, the Library will use the Four Factor Fair Use Test to determine whether or not the use of a resource falls under fair use.

Is copyright an issue for faculty when posting documents to CatCourses?


Publishers have recently filed copyright suits against colleges and universities related to unauthorized posting of materials through campus course management systems.

  • Faculty can be held personally liable for egregious copyright violations.
  • Publishers are actively looking for copyright infractions, especially in the online realm.

Librarians can help faculty avoid copyright violations when posting documents to CatCourses. The library's SCR Program assists faculty by evaluating, digitizing and posting documents to CatCourses.

Shouldn't all materials used in teaching be considered "fair use"?

There are four factors used to determine if a copyrighted work can be considered "fair use":

  • Purpose and character of the use:
    • Nonprofit educational purposes more likely fair use commercial educational purposes
    • Nature of the copyrighted work
    • Factual works more likely fair use than creative works
  • Amount and significance used relative to the entire work
    • Smaller portions more likely fair use than larger portions
  • Impact on potential market for the work
    • Little or no market impact more likely fair use than uses which interfere with potential markets

What about digitizing textbooks?

Books that are written explicitly for classroom instruction—Introduction to Calculus (7th Edition), Understanding Human Development (4th Edition), College Chemistry (19th Edition), etc.—generally do not fall under fair use. Using portions of a text for a class is not transformative which does not lean toward fair use (Factor #1 "The Purpose and Character of Use) and often has a detrimental financial impact on the rightsholder (Factor #4 "The Effect of the Use Upond the Potential Market"). Digitizing all or part such books requires obtaining copyright clearance and paying a permission fee. It is not the purpose of the Course Resources program to save students the cost of purchasing what should be required textbooks.

See "Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors" for more details.

What about information resources that are in the public domain?

The Library can freely digitize information resources that are in the public domain. Typical examples of public-domain resources include U.S. Government publications, many state publications, and older resources for which the copyright has expired. The Library can help you determine whether or not an information resource is in the public domain.

How long does digitization take?

Although UC Merced Library has excellent digitization equipment, digitization is still a complex process that takes considerably more time than, for example, making photocopies. The digitization process is further slowed when:

  • pages are highlighted, marked up with pen or pencil, torn, taped, folded, or bent by clips (paper, mini, or binder).
  • the paper on which the book or journal is printed is excessively thin, discolored, or poorly finished.
  • the quality of the submitted book or article is so poor that the Library must obtain a clean copy either through purchase or interlibrary loan.

How can I make sure everything is digitized in time for my class?

  • Submit books, journals, and other resources as far in advance as possible.
  • In the interest of fairness, the Library processes items in the order in which they are received. Being at the front of the line is the best way to make sure your materials are digitized in time for your class.
  • Provide the cleanest copy possible.
  • Accompany materials with a syllabus clearly indicating the pages needed and the sequence of readings so we can prioritize if necessary.

How do the digitized materials get on to CatCourses?

The Library has access to each CatCourses course and can upload materials.

Can the SCR program replace printed course readers?


SCR is the best choice when:

  • Students will not need to print much of the information (read it online)
  • The information is in the public domain (published before 1923 or by a government agency)
  • The information is already available in digital format
  • The information is already licensed for use by UC Merced

Course readers are the best choice when:

  • Students will want or need a print copy
  • The information won't digitize well because of formatting (illustrations, tables, diagrams, etc.)
  • Copyright permissions costs are higher for digitizing than for printing

The library is happy to help faculty evaluate which option is best for their courses. Contact us for more information.

Contact the UC Merced bookstore for assistance with course readers.;

How do I get my originals back?

The Library will notify you by email once your materials have been digitized. Either you, your curriculum assistant, or other designated proxy can pick them up in Room 275, Kolligian Library. We can also send you the materials through campus mail.

What about materials in non-print formats?

The Library will handle the digitization of non-print formats (VHS tapes, LPs, 35mm slides, etc.) on a case-by-case basis. Submitting non-print formats well in advance will insure that they will be ready when they are needed.

What if I have other questions?

For additional information on the Supplemental Course Resources program, please email