17 U.S. Code § 108. Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives
Notwithstanding the exclusive rights of the owners of copyright, section 108 provides that under certain conditions it is not an infringement of copyright for a library or archives, or any of its employees acting within the scope of their employment, to reproduce or distribute not more than one copy or phonorecord of a work, provided (1) the reproduction or distribution is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage and (2) the collections of the library or archives are open to the public or available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives, but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field, and (3) the reproduction or distribution of the work includes a notice of copyright.
Under this provision, a purely commercial enterprise could not establish a collection of copyrighted works, call itself a library or archive, and engage in for-profit reproduction and distribution of photocopies. Similarly, it would not be possible for a non-profit institution, by means of contractual arrangements with a commercial copying enterprise, to authorize the enterprise to carry out copying and distribution functions that would be exempt if conducted by the non-profit institution itself.
The reference to “indirect commercial advantage” has raised questions as to the status of photocopying done by or for libraries or archival collections within industrial, profit-making, or proprietary institutions (such as the research and development departments of chemical, pharmaceutical, automobile, and oil corporations, the library of a proprietary hospital, the collections owned by a law or medical partnership, etc.).
There is a direct interrelationship between this problem and the prohibitions against “multiple” and “systematic” photocopying in section 108(g)(1) and (2). Under section 108, a library in a profitmaking organization would not be authorized to:
(a) use a single subscription or copy to supply its employees with multiple copies of material relevant to their work; or
(b) use a single subscription or copy to supply its employees, on request, with single copies of material relevant to their work, where the arrangement is ‘’systematic” in the sense of deliberately substituting photocopying for subscription or purchase; or
(c) use “interlibrary loan” arrangements for obtaining photocopies in such aggregate quantities as to substitute for subscriptions or purchase of material needed by employees in their work.
Moreover, a library in a profit-making organization could not evade these obligations by installing reproducing equipment on its premises for unsupervised use by the organization’s staff.
Isolated, spontaneous making of single photocopies by a library in a for-profit organization, without any systematic effort to substitute photocopying for subscriptions or purchases, would be covered by section 108, even though the copies are furnished to the employees of the organization for use in their work. Similarly, for-profit libraries could participate in interlibrary arrangements for exchange of photocopies, as long as the reproduction or distribution was not “systematic.” These activities, by themselves, would ordinarily not be considered “for direct or indirect commercial advantage,” since the “advantage” referred to in this clause must attach to the immediate commercial motivation behind the reproduction or distribution itself, rather than to the ultimate profit-making motivation behind the enterprise in which the library is located. On the other hand, section 108 would not excuse reproduction or distribution if there were a commercial motive behind the actual making or distributing of the copies, if multiple copies were made or distributed, or if the photocopying activities were “systematic” in the sense that their aim was to substitute for subscriptions or purchases.
The rights of reproduction and distribution under section 108 apply in the following circumstances:
Clause (3) provides that nothing in section 108 is intended to limit the reproduction and distribution by lending of a limited number of copies and excerpts of an audiovisual news program. This exemption is intended to apply to the daily newscasts of the national television networks, which report the major events of the day. It does not apply to documentary (except documentary programs involving news reporting as that term is used in section 107), magazine-format or other public affairs broadcasts dealing with subjects of general interest to the viewing public.
The clause was first added to the revision bill in 1974 by the adoption of an amendment proposed by Senator Baker. It is intended to permit libraries and archives, subject to the general conditions of this section, to make off-the-air videotape recordings of daily network news casts for limited distribution to scholars and researchers for use in research purposes. As such, it is an adjunct to the American Television and Radio Archive established in Section 113 of the Act [2 U.S.C. 170] which will be the principal repository for television broadcast material, including news broadcasts, the inclusion of language indicating that such material may only be distributed by lending by the library or archive is intended to preclude performance, copying, or sale, whether or not for profit, by the recipient of a copy of a television broadcast taped off-the-air pursuant to this clause.
Clause (4), in addition to asserting that nothing contained in section 108 “affects the right of fair use as provided by section 107”, also provides that the right of reproduction granted by this section does not override any contractual arrangements assumed by a library or archives when it obtained a work for its collections: For example, if there is an express contractual prohibition against reproduction for any purpose, this legislation shall not be construed as justifying a violation of the contract. This clause is intended to encompass the situation where an individual makes papers, manuscripts or other works available to a library with the understanding that they will not be reproduced.
It is the intent of this legislation that a subsequent unlawful use by a user of a copy or phonorecord of a work lawfully made by a library, shall not make the library liable for such improper use.
With respect to material described in subsection (d)—articles or other contributions to periodicals or collections, and small parts of other copyrighted works—subsection (g)(2) provides that the exemptions of section 108 do not apply if the library or archive engages in “systematic reproduction or distribution of single or multiple copies or phonorecords.” This provision in S. 22 provoked a storm of controversy, centering around the extent to which the restrictions on “systematic” activities would prevent the continuation and development of interlibrary networks and other arrangements involving the exchange of photocopies. After thorough consideration, the Committee amended section 108(g)(2) to add the following proviso:
In addition, the Committee added a new subsection (i) to section 108 [this section], requiring the Register of Copyrights, five years from the effective date of the new Act and at five-year intervals thereafter, to report to Congress upon “the extent to which this section has achieved the intended statutory balancing of the rights of creators, and the needs of users,” and to make appropriate legislative or other recommendations. As noted in connection with section 107, the Committee also amended section 504(c) in a way that would insulate librarians from unwarranted liability for copyright infringement; this amendment is discussed below.
The key phrases in the Committee’s amendment of section 108(g)(2) are “aggregate quantities” and “substitute for a subscription to or purchase of” a work. To be implemented effectively in practice, these provisions will require the development and implementation of more-or-less specific guidelines establishing criteria to govern various situations.
The National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) offered to provide good offices in helping to develop these guidelines. This offer was accepted and, although the final text of guidelines has not yet been achieved, the Committee has reason to hope that, within the next month, some agreement can be reached on an initial set of guidelines covering practices under section 108(g)(2).
Although subsection (h) generally removes musical, graphic, and audiovisual works from the specific exemptions of section 108, it is important to recognize that the doctrine of fair use under section 107 remains fully applicable to the photocopying or other reproduction of such works. In the case of music, for example, it would be fair use for a scholar doing musicological research to have a library supply a copy of a portion of a score or to reproduce portions of a phonorecord of a work. Nothing in section 108 impairs the applicability of the fair use doctrine to a wide variety of situations involving photocopying or other reproduction by a library of copyrighted material in its collections, where the user requests the reproduction for legitimate scholarly or research purposes.
2005—Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 109–9 substituted “(b), (c), and (h)” for “(b) and (c)”.
1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–304, § 404(1)(A), (B), in introductory provisions, substituted “Except as otherwise provided in this title and notwithstanding” for “Notwithstanding” and inserted “, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c)” after “of a work”.
Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 105–304, § 404(1)(C), inserted before period at end “that appears on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section, or includes a legend stating that the work may be protected by copyright if no such notice can be found on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section”.
“(1) the copy or phonorecord reproduced is currently in the collections of the library or archives; and
“(2) any such copy or phonorecord that is reproduced in digital format is not otherwise distributed in that format and is not made available to the public in that format outside the premises of the library or archives.”
for “if the copy or phonorecord reproduced is currently in the collections of the library or archives.”
Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 105–304, § 404(3), substituted “three copies or phonorecords” for “a copy or phonorecord”, struck out “in facsimile form” after “duplicated”, inserted “or if the existing format in which the work is stored has become obsolete,” after “stolen,”, substituted “if—
“(1) the library or archives has, after a reasonable effort, determined that an unused replacement cannot be obtained at a fair price; and
“(2) any such copy or phonorecord that is reproduced in digital format is not made available to the public in that format outside the premises of the library or archives in lawful possession of such copy.”
for “if the library or archives has, after a reasonable effort, determined that an unused replacement cannot be obtained at a fair price.”, and inserted concluding provisions.
Subsecs. (h), (i). Pub. L. 105–298 added subsec. (h) and redesignated former subsec. (h) as (i).
1997—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 105–80 substituted “fair price” for “pair price” in introductory provisions.
1992—Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 102–307 struck out subsec. (i), which read as follows: “Five years from the effective date of this Act, and at five-year intervals thereafter, the Register of Copyrights, after consulting with representatives of authors, book and periodical publishers, and other owners of copyrighted materials, and with representatives of library users and librarians, shall submit to the Congress a report setting forth the extent to which this section has achieved the intended statutory balancing of the rights of creators, and the needs of users. The report should also describe any problems that may have arisen, and present legislative or other recommendations, if warranted.”