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Electronic course reserves serve a vital function in university instruction, enabling students to easily access important published literature in their discipline. While electronic systems have greatly improved the functionality of course reserves and have led to their ubiquitous use on campus, publishers have become more litigious and threaten to erode educational exceptions to copyright law under fair use. This paper reviews recent relevant case law with a view to providing recommendations for best practices for electronic reserves in university libraries that preserve traditional legal exceptions to copyright protections in education. While the courts have often upheld these exceptions, libraries could lose these legal rights as they shift the norms of operation into safer and safer spaces to avoid litigation and minimize risk. Only by continuing to reinforce these legal exceptions as societal norms through regular practice, can we, as librarians, hold the line and ensure that these norms are not eroded through reflexive compliance with publisher demands that overreach their rightful protections under the law.