Librarians have a pivotal role to play in the implementation of copyright legislation. By the very nature of their work they are placed between on the one hand the authors, publishers and other copyright owners who quite rightly are keen to obtain a fair economic return on their intellectual property whilst on the other hand they deal directly with the readers of copyright works. Library and information professionals therefore have a key role in both controlling and facilitating access to information, and as such they also have to be able to explain to their users what levels of copying are permissible under copyright legislation.
This unique role which library & information professionals have is recognised to a limited degree in the copyright legislation. Sections 37-43 of the CDPA 1988 give certain librarians explicit permission to make copies for their users. The Act gives them protection against copyright infringement, provided they comply with a number of bureaucratic procedures to earn that indemnity. This is known as 'library privilege'. However, there are a number of major drawbacks of which library and information professionals should be aware.
Library privilege applies only to not-for-profit libraries 3 , so industrial and commercial libraries are not covered. In practice the privileges only seem