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Copying in the Library

Library Copying Authorized by Section 108

In addition to copying that would fall within the fair use section of copyright law, certain additional types of library copying are authorized by Section 108 of the law. These general conditions apply:

  1. The copy is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage.
  2. The collections of the library are open to the public or are available not only to researchers affiliated with the library but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field.
  3. The copy includes a notice of copyright.

Section 108(d) authorizes the making of a single copy of a single article or a copy of a small part of a copyrighted work in the library's collections, provided that the following conditions are met:

  • The copy becomes the property of the user;
  • The library has no notice that the use of the copy would be for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research; and
  • The library both includes on its order form and displays prominently at the place where users submit copying requests a warning about copyright in accordance with requirements prescribed by the Register of Copyrights.  The exact wording of the required copyright warning signs can be found on page 20 of the U.S. Copyright's Office circular 21, Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians

Section 108 does not authorize a library to make multiple copies.


A person who violates the rights of the copyright owner is a copyright infringer. Remedies available to the copyright holder for infringement include damages, injunction, and recovery of court costs and attorney's fees. There is also criminal infringement (done willfully for commercial advantage or private financial gain), which is subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for each infringement (Evans, p. 530).