The Copyright Act at 17 U.S.C. § 108 and the Code of Federal Regulations at 37 C.F.R. § 201.14 provide protections for libraries with regard to copying for library patrons.
First, the library or archives must satisfy the requirement in Section 108(1). The reproduction or distribution must be made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage. This means that the library (or a copying service hired by the library) cannot profit from the copying. In addition, the copying for the patron must be done for purposes of private study, scholarship, or research. Second, the library or archives must be open to the public (or make its collections available to specialized researchers other than those affiliated with the institution). Third, the reproduction or distribution of the work must include the actual copyright notice from the material being copied, for example, “© 1953, Grove Press.” Under 17 U.S.C. § 108(a), if the material contains no copyright notice, the material should be stamped with the notice stating that it may be protected by copyright law under Title 17 U.S. Code. In addition to limiting the library’s liability, the use of the warning notice will defeat an infringer’s defense that the copying was an “innocent infringement” and might even support an argument that the infringement was willful, thereby increasing the damages paid to the copyright owner.
Unsupervised use of reproducing equipment
The library or archives will not be liable for copyright infringement when a patron makes copies using unsupervised reproducing equipment located on its premises, provided that the equipment displays a notice that the making of a copy may be subject to the copyright law. This statute is broadly written, using the term, “reproducing equipment” and can include library photocopiers, scanners, computers, 3D printers, and other reproducing equipment. Neither the statute nor the regulations give specific language for the notice. The American Library Association recommends posting this language:
Notice: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17 U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this equipment is liable for any infringement.
Copies made by library or archives employees at the request of a patron
The library or archives will not be liable for copyright infringement when its employees make copies upon the request of a patron, provided it posts the specific notice specified in 37 C.F.R. § 201.14 which states:
37 CFR 201.14 – Warnings of copyright for use by certain libraries and archives.
NOTICE WARNING CONCERNING COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.
When patrons ask the library or archives to copy a work, the warning notice must be printed within a box located prominently on the order form, either on the front side of the form or immediately adjacent to the space for the name and signature of the user. Once these conditions are satisfied, the library or archives may make one copy of a work for the patron. It may reproduce one article or other contribution to a copyrighted collection or periodical issue, or a small part of any other copyrighted work, such as a chapter from a book. The copy must become the property of the user and the library or archives must not have notice that the copy will be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.
The library or archives may copy an entire work, or a substantial part of it, from its collection upon a patron request, if it has first determined, on the basis of a reasonable investigation, that a copy cannot be obtained at a fair price. This is generally the case when the work is out of print and used copies are not available at a reasonable price. The copy must become the property of the user and the library or archives must not have notice that the copy will be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.
This right to copy does not apply if the library is aware that the copying of a work is systematic. For example, if 30 different members of one class are requesting a copy of the same article, the library has reason to believe that the instructor is trying to avoid seeking permission for 30 copies.