Borrowing and the Copyright Law

The revised U.S. Copyright Law, Public Law 94-553, includes provisions that directly affect the interlibrary borrowing of library materials. Libraries must comply with the relevant sections of the law including a requirement to make records available for inspection on demand.  Subsection 108(d) authorizes the borrowing or requesting of a single copy of an article from a periodical issue or a copy of a small part of a copyrighted book. Further, it stipulates the copy becomes the property of the user; the library must not have had notice that the copy would be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research and the library must not use interlibrary borrowing in such aggregate quantities as to substitute for purchases or subscriptions. Foreign publications from nations that are party to the Universal Copyright Convention are protected under section 104.

Guidelines for interpreting certain sections of the law have been prepared by the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyright Works (CONTU). Under the guidelines, within any given year the borrowing library may receive five (5) articles from any periodical title published within the last five (5) years prior to the date of the request. For material other than journals (e.g., chapters of books and pages from published proceedings), a borrowing library may receive only five (5) copies of or from any given work during the entire period such material is protected by copyright (the life of the copyright holder plus fifty (50) years after his death). Many scholarly journals and many association journals permit copying without regard to copyright ownership. Any publications within the public domain are also beyond the purview of the guidelines; for example, many U.S. government publications.

When the library has used the yearly quota of photocopied articles for any given journal, its staff will provide, when possible, the names of commercial organizations that provide copies for a fee. Such organizations have made prior arrangements with publishers and/or holders of copyrights that do not infringe upon the provisions of the copyright law. Of course, requests to authors for reprints may also provide an alternative means of obtaining material.

Library users should be aware of their rights and responsibilities in regard to the copyright law.

A warning of copyright restrictions will be posted at stations where requests are accepted and will appear on each interlibrary loan request form. The requesters’ signatures on the forms signify their awareness of their personal responsibilities in regard to the provisions of the copyright law it as applies to these particular requests. The warning follows:

Warning Concerning Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction.

One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research”. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purpose in excess of “fair use”, that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copyright order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

Questions regarding interlibrary borrowing and the copyright law should be directed to a librarian, (213) 740-1441.

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