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Libraries and Special Provisions under Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law

Section 108 allows many libraries to make copies of materials for preservation, private study, and interlibrary loan (ILL).

  • The library must be open to the public or outside researchers.
  • Copies must be made "without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage."
  • The library may make single copies on "isolated and unrelated" occasions and not make multiple copies or engage in "systematic reproduction or distribution of single or multiple copies."
  • Each copy must include a notice of copyright or a statement that the work may be protected by copyright.


Notice recommended on reproduction equipment: "Notice: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.  The person using this equipment is liable for any infringement."


Copies for Private Study:

  1. Copies of articles / short works -
    1. Library has no notice that the copy is for any purpose other than research and
    2. Displays a warning notice on copiers
  2. Entire books or substantial part thereof
    1. Library must conduct reasonable investigation to conclude copy cannot be obtained at fair price
    2. Library has no notice that use is for anything other than research or private study
    3. Displays warning notice on copiers

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

When receiving a copy of an item via ILL, ILL arrangements cannot have "as their purpose or effect" that the library receiving the copies on behalf of requesting patrons "does so in such aggregate quantities as to substitute for a subscription to or purchase of such work" (17 U.S.C. Sec. 108(g)(2)).

CONTU (National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works, 1979) guidelines permit a library to, during one calendar year, receive up to 5 copies of articles from the most recent 5 years of a journal title.