How often may a library copy from the same journal title and what restrictions apply?

The restriction on copying for users is found in section 108(d) of the Copyright Act, which states that only one article from a journal issue may be reproduced for a user. Under section 108(e), larger portions may be reproduced for the user, but the library must first make a reasonable effort to purchase a copy for the user, and this includes even a used copy. Section 108(g)(1) states that libraries may copy the same material on separate occasions. This means that if several users request the same article, each user is treated as an individual and the library may make a copy for each of them. So, there is no such restriction.

A number of public library patrons each day ask for a copy of that day's New York Times crossword puzzle. Is it permissible to photocopy the number of copies projected to be needed and make them available at the circulation desk for the patrons?

While it likely is fair use for patrons themselves to make a photocopy of the puzzle for personal use, and even for the library to reproduce a copy of the puzzle for a patron upon request, there are restrictions on what a library can do. Section 108(d) allows libraries to make a single copy of an article, book chapter, and the like, for a user upon request, but the library must provide a warning of copyright, the copy must become the property of the user, and the library must have no notice that the copy will be used for other than fair use purposes. This subsection is further restricted by section 108(g), which states among other things that the copying under section 108(d) cannot be systematic. Making multiple copies of the crossword puzzle each day is certainly systematic. The library could seek permission from the New York Times to make these copies in advance each day, or continue to make single copies for users upon request.

A public library has acquired two new sewing books, both of which come with a packet of sewing patterns. Is it infringement for the library to place a note on the packets asking patrons not to cut the patterns but to trace them for their personal use instead? Or would it be preferable for the note to ask users not to cut the patterns and to leave them to their own devices to figure out what to do after that?

Under the first sale doctrine in section 109(a) of the Copyright Act, after anyone (including a library) obtains a copy of a work in its collection, it may choose to lend these materials to others. Instructing users not to deface the work, which is what cutting the patterns would do, is not infringement. Fashion design is not protected under U. S. copyright law, but patterns are graphic works and typically are protected. Thus, duplicating dress or crafts patterns via tracing or by another method likely is infringement. There is some possibility that it is a fair use for an individual who copies the pattern for personal use, but the library should not advise tracing as it may encourage infringement.

A library is building a significant collection of scores and anthologies of music, mostly Broadway music, movie tunes, and popular music. Librarians from other libraries and patrons use the library because it has copies of these works. In the past, the library viewed it as good customer service to fax copies of the music when someone needed a copy in a hurry. Is there a problem with reproducing sheet music? Why is it any different than when the library lends the sheet music or the published anthology that contains the particular musical work?

Yes, reproducing copyrighted sheet music is a problem. The exceptions provided for libraries under the library provision, section 108 of the Copyright Act, do not apply to musical works, according to section 108(i), except for the sections 108(b) and (c) exceptions, which cover preservation and replacement. So, libraries may not photocopy or fax copyrighted sheet music for patrons.

This is different than lending the sheet music or the anthology that contains the work. Under section 109(a), the first sale doctrine, libraries are permitted to lend materials from their collection. Reproducing the work either by photocopying or by scanning infringes the reproduction right of the copyright holder. On the other hand, it may be fair use for the patron to make a copy, but the library should not make the copy for the user.

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