May public libraries use tutorials created under a Creative Commons license on their library websites without worry about infringement? What would happen if the owner decided to sue for infringement?

Creative Commons (CC) offers a variety of voluntary licenses that a copyright owner may adopt that work along with copyright. So, the answer to the question depends on the type of CC license and the rights that it grants to users. For example, if the CC license for the tutorial is an attribution license, then the library may post the tutorial on its website, but it must give credit to the author of the tutorial. The CC licenses are detailed on its website at

Should a copyright author wish to sue someone who violates the terms of a CC license, the suit would be filed in state rather than federal court since it is a contract matter rather than a copyright matter. The author still has a U.S. copyright and could offer the work under different license terms, but the person who began to use the work under the CC license is protected.

What are the copyright rules for downloadable books?

It is more likely that the downloading of e-books is governed by a license agreement (contract) rather than just by copyright law. Copyright certainly applies, but a license agreement most likely covers such e-book issues as access, reproduction, distribution, display, and so forth.

Many libraries are lending e-books on a Kindle. Is this infringement to lend a Kindle loaded with copyrighted books acquired from Amazon?

The Amazon license has changed and now public libraries are permitted to lend Kindle devices and books. There is even an Amazon FAQ (frequently asked questions) section that answers questions about borrowing Kindle eBooks from public libraries (see library?&nodeId=200747550). The FAQ includes instructions on how to download eBooks to one's own Kindle from the public library. Amazon is to be commended for responding to library demand for this option.

A college dance teacher has a personal use license for music recordings from iTunes. She has loaded songs on her laptop for her personal use but also wants to play the songs in her dance classes. Is this permitted?

The question is answered by the Apple iTunes license agreement. Typically, a "personal use license" does not allow use even within nonprofit educational institutions because that is not a personal use. Apple does offer educational licenses, however, as well as licenses for a number of other organizations (see softwarelicensing/agreements/itunes.html). Thus, the individual teacher, as well as the school, could be liable for using the recordings from her personal use license for a dance class. She should encourage the institution to provide licensed music for her dance classes.

In order to save space, each year a corporate library that has a CCC Annual Copyright License has its journals microfilmed by a library microfilming house, which either uses the hard copy the library provides or provides film from the microfilming company's own collection. It does not seem to be a problem when the microfilm is received and the hard copies are destroyed. The library considers the microfilm version to be a different format of information that has already been purchased, and the microfilm is used in place of hard copy by document delivery staff and scientists.

Actually, it is a problem. The library is reproducing the journals cover-to- cover which is not permitted under the Copyright Act. Such reproduction requires permission of the copyright holder. The publisher may not want its journal reproduced on microfilm. Or, if the publisher offers its own microfilm edition of the journal, it is unlikely that it will grant permission for a particular library to make its own microfilm version, but the library certainly may ask. It is possible that the "library microfilming house" has a license for such reproduction and is paying royalties, but the corporate library should inquire before such an undertaking. The Annual Copyright License from the Copyright Clearance Center typically does not include cover-to-cover microfilming.

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