Copyright Clearances: Library Copying in the Digital Age

By Dames, K. Matthew | Online, July-August 2005 | Go to article overview

Copyright Clearances: Library Copying in the Digital Age


Dames, K. Matthew, Online


Consider the following scenario. A patron asks you, a librarian, to download a journal article that is part of a database with which the library maintains a license agreement. In the past, the patron has made similar requests. Although you have no clear proof, you suspect the patron has reproduced the printouts you sent her, and redistributed copies to recipients outside the organization--including colleagues and clients. Additionally, you suspect that there is a provision in the copyright law that may allow one part of this chain of events, but that the organization--perhaps even you--may be subject to some legal risk for another part of this same chain of events. You're unsure, however, where legality may morph into infringement.

Welcome to the murky world of library copying in the digital age.

Just as Section 109 of the copyright law is one of the legal cornerstones that permits certain library activities, Section 108 authorizes libraries to perform activities that assist in the dissemination of knowledge. Section 108 generally allows libraries to reproduce copyrighted work for, and distribute those works to, patrons and other libraries. The most significant distinction between Section 109 and Section 108 is that while the former allows libraries who legally purchase copies of protected materials to lend those materials to others, the latter allows libraries to copy and redistribute some or all of those materials for purposes such as archiving and interlibrary loan. In other words, Section 109 generally lets libraries lend the whole item--the book, film, etc.--to the public while Section 108 generally lets libraries copy and distribute some of the information within those items, such as pages of the book, to library patrons or store for archival purposes. (In certain instances, Section 108 also allows a library to copy an entire item and distribute that whole item to a patron, another library, or store that item for archival purposes.)

Section 108, however, has been difficult to stretch to accommodate digital formats and distribution channels. Congress drafted the law when information resided in physical, tangible formats. As the primary delivery and storage information formats have evolved from analogue (and tangible) to digital (and intangible), Section 108's boundaries have become fuzzy. Beginning in 1994, at the Conference on Fair Use ("CONFU"), copyright stakeholders (including the content industry and library representative organizations) tried to "negotiate guidelines for the fair use of electronic materials in a variety of nonprofit educational contexts." By 1996, it was clear that the two sides would be unable to come to an acceptable agreement [www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/ confu2.htm]. The Section 108 controversy continues today: In April 2005, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the Association of American Publishers is considering whether to launch legal action over the use of electronic reserves at the University of California at San Diego [http://tinyurl.com/3oscs]. As a result, any answer to the hypothetical scenario posed at the outset of this article is conjecture.

Before addressing Section 108's applicability in the digital realm, it's necessary to elucidate the conditions upon which institutions are eligible to use the section as a copyright limitation.

SINGLE COPIES AND NO COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY

Generally, Section 108(a) allows a library to make one copy of a protected work for archival purposes so long as the library doesn't use the law as an excuse to allow widespread, but otherwise illegal, copying of protected materials. Interestingly, Section 108(a) correlates directly with Section 108(g), which allows library copying and distribution only when those activities happen under "isolated" and "unrelated" circumstances.

Section 108(a) also establishes conditions upon which libraries may make single archival copy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Copyright Clearances: Library Copying in the Digital Age
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.