Libraries Face Charges for Photocopying
Macdonald, Marianne, The Independent (London, England)
PUBLIC libraries are likely to have to pay millions of pounds in copyright charges from as early as next year as publishers and authors crack down on the illegal reproduction of their material.
The Copyright Licensing Agency, which is demanding payment for the licence to make photocopies of copyright material, believes charges are almost certain. Colin Hadley, its chief executive, said: "The British Library photocopies 2.6 million copies of journal articles every year, so we are very interested in what is going on in British libraries."
It also argues that a precedent was set when public libraries agreed similar copyright licences with the British Phonographic Industry for the rights to lend CDs and tapes.
The cost of an annual licence to give public libraries the right to make multiple simultaneous copies of a chapter or article is likely to be agreed next month at a meeting between the CLA and library representatives. The cost may be passed on to the public - mostly schoolchildren carrying out projects and local businessmen.
The CLA, founded in 1982, has turned its guns on libraries after working its way through business, government ministries and the education sector - licensing schools, colleges and universities to bring in pounds 6.5m a year. Its authority derives from the recent Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the agency represents about 1,300 publishers and 50,000 authors.
The licence would end the grey area surrounding photocopying in libraries. At present librarians can make a photocopy of a chapter of a book for one schoolchild, but if another from the same school asks for a copy of the same chapter and the librarian can remember doing the first copy, they must refuse. Similarly, if a businessman asks for a certain photocopy on one day, then returns and asks for a second copy, that request must be refused if the librarian can remember making the first copy.
Library sources privately admit that, until now, some photocopying of copyright material by library users has been done illegally because the public is ignorant or reckless about the complex copyright law, even though signs are displayed above photocopiers advising them of it. …