ocra logo Course Reserves (OCRA) and Copyright

Brown's libraries offer online access to faculty assigned texts, audio, and video materials for courses. Digitized texts and links to licensed materials are known as online reserves. In addition to book chapters and persistent links to articles, you can also request audio and video for your students to access over the web. Physical material can also be requested via OCRA and placed on reserve in the Rockefeller, Sciences, or Orwig libraries.

Online Course Reserves Access (OCRA) is the service used to place books and other physical media on reserve AND to create electronic reserves: links to ebooks and other online content, digitization of articles, book chapters, full-length movies, short video clips, and audio files. You simply supply the citation information and/or the material to digitize, and Library and Academic Technology staff work together to do the rest, including adding links to your Canvas site.

In order to comply with copyright and fair use, faculty are asked to use OCRA for all course readings, audio files and videos. The library will ensure that a legal copy is provided for distribution to students.

For more information, see Course Reserves & Streaming Media FAQ


It is the Faculty member's responsibility to assure that all items placed on course reserve conform to copyright or fall within Fair Use guidelines. For more information, see Brown University Copyright and Fair Use. OCRA was designed in part to address copyright concerns. Faculty and the University are liable for copyright compliance. Use of the OCRA system ensures content complies with copyright and fair use and draws on licensed copies of content either subscribed, owned or obtained by the library.

What are the Fair Use guidelines?
The instructor of the course is responsible for complying with copyright provisions. More information on Brown University’s policies on Copyright and Fair Use is available at http://www.brown.edu/copyright/

  1. Passworded for Class Use Only: Access to this photocopy or digital copy is necessary to meet course educational objectives, will be limited to students enrolled in the class, and will be removed at the end of the semester. The OCRA form requires a class password; the library will remove student access to digital material at the end of each semester.

  2. Format of the Work: This material meets the following criteria:
    -- It is NOT included in a coursepack or textbook ordered for your class.
    -- If the work is unpublished, permission of the author has been obtained.

  3. Reasonable Amount: The amount of the work digitized is reasonable and no more than necessary to meet the course educational objectives. Library guidelines: a single article from a journal issue, a complete short poem, no more than two chapters of a book, or 20%, whichever is greater.

  4. Market Impact: The Library or the instructor owns (or will acquire) the original published item. The Library will attempt to acquire a copy of book if we do not already own it and it meets our collecting guidelines The Library may purchase a digital copy of the article if available.

What is the difference between putting content in OCRA and using iTunes U?
iTunes U is used for Brown-generated content, not for copyrighted material. Copyrighted material cannot be legally downloaded. The media files in OCRA meet fair use guideslines and are streamed, not downloaded.