Should a library be concerned that researchers are using digital cameras to make reproductions of both published and unpublished works from their collections?

This would not seem to be substantially different than allowing a photocopy to be made. Could it be interpreted to fall under section 108(b) or (c) of the Copyright Act that restricts a library from making a digital copy of such material available to the public outside the premises of the library or archive? What are the implications of using scanners as opposed to photocopiers?

If a researcher makes a copy of a work or a portion thereof with his or her own digital camera, it is no different than copying the work by hand or making a photocopy. It may well be a fair use for the individual user. Because of the volume and scope of copying that libraries do, they are governed by a special section of the Copyright Act that limits library copying. Sections 108(b) and (c) generally permit library preservation copying of unpublished works and replacement copies for published material. The "on premises" restriction relates only to library copying and not what a user may do for research.

If the library provides public use scanners, then the section 108(f)(1) notice should be placed on or near that equipment just as is done for photocopiers. If the researcher is using either his or her own or the library's camera or scanner, the researcher may be liable if the activities are not fair use, but the library is not (see section 108(f)(2)).

If an academic librarian is preparing a presentation for students and colleagues, may she incorporate content from a blog without infringing copyright?

Blog content is copyrighted just as are other literary works. So, there are no special rules for blog content. A fair use portion of blog content may be used, just as a fair use portion of anything may be used. No permission is required to use a fair use portion, but for more than that, the librarian should contact the blog author and ask permission to use the material.

A library is interested in PDF documents on the web that are available at no charge, such as dissertations made freely available by a particular higher education institution. What can an academic library do with respect to these documents from other institutions? (1) May the catalog point to the website of the institution that posts these PDF documents? (2) May paper versions be printed and added to the library's collection? (3) May the library save local electronic versions of documents and point to them?

The desire to make these materials accessible to the users of a library makes sense, but some of these proposed alternatives are infringement and some are not.

(1) Pointing to the PDF on the web is no problem at all. A link is a cross-reference, and placing a link in the library online catalog is a very good option. However, the library should make sure that the file has been placed on the web by someone who has the authority to do so. In other words, anyone could take a dissertation and put a PDF version on the web without permission of the author. That person is certainly infringing, and libraries should not link to infringing sites. If the institution that granted the degree hosts the PDF file, then that institution is doing so with permission; often graduate students must agree to make dissertations available electronically, and the institution has the right to post them on the web. The official website for dissertations at a particular school would not be an infringing site, so linking to it is no problem.

(2) Printing a copy and adding it to the collection without permission is infringement. Just because the work is posted on the web does not mean that there is no copyright in the work. In fact, most doctoral students retain the copyright unless and until they assign it to a publisher. Posting the PDF makes the dissertation available to users at other institutions, but it does not give another library the reproduction right. A link does not reproduce the work, but copying it for the collection on paper does.

(3) Saving a local electronic version of a document and pointing to it rather than to the institutional site on which it is posted creates the same reproduction problems as stated in (2).

 
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