A question about "fair use" Copying entire books.

I have a friend who works for a university library who was ordered to copy a book page for page leaving out only the preface and the index. The book was obtained through an interlibrary loan. She refused to do it thinking it was a copyright infringement. For this she was written up for insubordination.


Is copying an entire book considered “fair use”? Keep in mind this is an educational use.

If it is not “fair use” is there a cite online she can use to bolster her case?

Thanks for any help you can give.

I think it is copyright infringement, but don’t quote me on that. I’m sure someone more versed in the law than I will be along.

But, having spent the last four years a university student, I can attest that that kind of thing is very common there, copyright infringement or not.

Maybe not … read this. It apparently depends on the purpose, amount, nature, and economic effect. The one part that weighs against fair use in this case is that it involved copying an entire book (the “amount” part). But still … who knows.

Why was she being ordered to do this?

As always consult an attorney but if it helps i found this…

There’s more to it than that but to avoid copyright issues here you’ll need to follow the link.

That section, however, does not in any way pertain to the situation that the OP was talking about.

I usually would give a reflexive “you can’t copy whole books, period” response. But this is an interesting exception.

The whole purpose of interlibrary loan is to make books available more widely than any one library’s budget and space can allow. So making a copy of a book to give to a patron who needs it would seem to be sensible and allowable.

The problem is that if the library had the book, then I’d really need to know the reason why the library wouldn’t just send out the book itself. Having just one copy isn’t an excuse: most interlibrary loan books are single copies. Nor would it be copyright infringement if the book were so particularly old and fragile that sending it out might damage it: only books since 1923 are in copyright.

Most interlibrary loans are simply passed around the system until somebody has the book and is willing to send it out. For the library not to do it, something odd must be going on. Without knowing the exact circumstances, I can’t even give a guess about whether this might be fair use or not.

Of course, if the OP’s friend thinks she was unfairly punished, then a lawyer is the way to go. Looking for cites on a message board isn’t going to cut it even in an internal hearing.

According to section 108 of the copyright law, libraries do have the right to copy a book or record for archive purposes. However, this section seems particularly relevant in this case:

Under this, and assuming the book was out of print or otherwise expensive to obtain, it does look like what was being described is allowed under the law – not as fair use, but under the library exemption.

To clarify, that quote is from paragraph 3 of Section 108.

It would still depend on how the library planned to use the copy, but I don’t think your friend has much chance of arguing that what they were telling her was infringement.

Extremely common in universities, even with departments (surprisingly).

In regards to Departments, they’re almost always faced with budget shortfalls (and this is magnified with State universities) and as such they cut corners to save money, including violating ‘fair use’ laws, mostly because the odds are pretty good that you’ll never get caught, unlike with software piracy for instance. (you’ll notice that most Universities are extremely anal regarding software licenses on their computers)

In regards to students, its even more common. My former room-mate worked at a copy shop close to campus, and the first 3 days of the semester (while textbooks could be refunded) were a complete madhouse, to the point that the shop had to extend it’s hours. You’d have a dozen students at a time photo-copying page after page of all of their textbooks and then returning them.

Not that I blame them mind you, if i wasn’t so lazy I would too. Textbooks are quite the racket.

I am not a lawyer. And all the standard disclaimers apply in that regard. This is by no means legal advice.

I am, however, a librarian who’s been doing a lot of reading up on copyright this summer. The problem is that copyright law is so incredibly nebulous. There is definitely an educational fair use exemption, but the problem here is that the book, for all intents and purposes, is being copied in whole. Therefore, by copying the book, you’re denying a sale to the rightful copyright owner, thus having a negative economic impact. So to my mind, educational or not, this would be a copyright infringement. The rule we use (which is just an in-house rule) is no more than 15% of a single book and no more than two articles from any single journal issue.

What boggles my mind is that she’d be written up for insubordination. I’m surely gung ho for patron service, but there comes a time when you have to say no. I’d never write anybody up for not wanting to potentially break copyright. I’d actually be proud of my staff member for taking the time to think about copyright issues. It’s also curious that they wanted her, the library employee, to make the copies. Usually you just give the ILL book to the patron and get it back from them later. If they break the copyright, that’s on them (provided you have the appropriate disclaimer in the area of your copier). This seems like an entirely mis-handled management situation.

Of course, if your friend isn’t in the U.S., you can throw all the advice in the thread to this point in the trash.

If the write-up is really damaging to her job, I’d appeal to the supervisor’s supervisor or to HR. Otherwise, I’d make a written rebuttal and explanation on the formal written reprimand and let it go at that.

Again, I’m not a lawyer.

And Chuck makes a good point. Circumstances are everything. If this is for an archive copy, it’s an entirely different ballgame (though still possibly a violation).

Why not? (seriously)

Per board rules I did not paste all of the text from that page here but as I mentioned if you follow the link they go into more detail on what needs to be done to make copying a book allowable. Overall it seems to address the OP.

Hmmm…reading my own link above a bit more closely it says this (more to the point it seems)…

It’s not “cutting corners.” It’s stealing. I’m an author. If two libraries want copies of my books, they can buy two copies. If one library duplicates the other library’s copy, they’ve just deprived me of the royalties that pay my mortgage. That’s theft.

(a) We’re not talking about textbooks
(b) Being “quite the racket” doesn’t justify stealing them

This would presumably not apply if the book were out of print and not available for purchase from the copyright owner.

My very scrupulous professor at Rutgers sometimes wanted to use an out-of-print book for an upper-level seminar. She would contact the publisher and get permission to copy the whole book. The publisher would charge for this. She would then have the required number of xeroxed books made, and “sell” them to the students for the cost of copying and whatever the publisher charged her. The xeroxed books would include a typed statement explaining the particulars of the agreement that allowed them to be produced.

Or to put it another way–it’s my understanding that even if a book is out of print, it’s still protected by copyright.

I doubt the publisher would mind if a scholar xeroxed an entire out-of-print book for his or her own research use, but it’s still a violation. A library worker can’t be expected to knowingly violate copyright laws. If there was some sort of agreement in place that allowed the book to be copied, then she should have been advised of that.

Here’s what you originally quoted:

This comes into play when a library makes copiers available to the public and someone from the public makes an infringement without the library’s knowledge or approval.

But the OP’s friend was a library employee, given a directive to copy a book by another library employee, for a library matter. It’s about as opposite a situation as anyone can imagine to that paragraph. As you noticed later in that section, even though there’s a right to copy an article, the right fails when a complete text is involved.

Here is the complete text of Section 108. I don’t think we have enough information to tell whether any of the exceptions come into play.

What was the book? Why was it being copied? Why leave out the index and preface? Was the book generally available or was it a singleton? Was permission asked from and granted by the library who lent the book? If not, why? Has that sort of copying been done at that library before? Lots of unanswered questions. We can’t even tell what provisions of the code might apply.

Not definitely. Just because a work is out of print doesn’t mean it’s in the public domain. It still has copyright protection.

We’re clearly talking about two different kinds of exemptions here. In this instance, a library “archival copy” exemption would probably be fine. But even this is kind of ooky because despite the language saying acquired from another library, in practice this really means you’re only supposed to make a second copy of something rare that you already own in your collection (have paid for). Copying through ILL really should be reserved for something rare-ish that’s been damaged or lost. Again, you’re not denying a sale.

The other exemption we’re talking about, the educational use exemption, doesn’t really apply in this case (in my estimation). Just because it’s hard to get doesn’t mean it doesn’t have copyright protection. Selectively copy the important sections that you need from the book or better yet, read the copy that’s come to you through InterLibrary Loan and take copious notes. Then you’re “fairly using” the educational exemption.

My interpretation of the OP is that Library A received (through interlibrary loan) Book X from LIbrary B. Library A then proceeded to make a full copy of Book X for their collection.

I could be misinterpreting, but that’s how I see it.

And if that’s the correct interpretation, I think it’s certainly not fair use.

I also don’t understand why the preface and index were left out.

Just out or curiousity, why does this extednd to books and not music?

Sure thing. It’s theft.

It’s also University Departments trying to operate on a riduiculous budget while said Univ. spends their budget on a football stadium.

I’m not likely to view you as a victim considering the racket on textbooks and the outrageous tuiting I pay too.

Most of the illegal copies at a University are textbooks, so really we are.

Furthermore, justification for theft is based your individual morals. I’ve been pirating music for over 5 years becayse I know it hurts the labels far more than the artists themselves, and in fact it benefits them usually.

I don’t pirate books as of now, but I know many folks that do. And usually its a result of the textbooks running $60+ for a book used for 1 semester, then bought back for $10, and then resold for $40.

It’s a nice scam, and one that many college students dont want to participate in.