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ERIC Number: ED456862
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-Oct
Pages: 5
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Libraries in Today's Digital Age: The Copyright Controversy. ERIC Digest.
Russell, Carrie
This digest focuses on the continuing ambiguities libraries and their users face in dealing with copyright in the digital environment. In the networked digital world, the basic principles of copyright are more difficult to apply. Digital copies are easy to create, modify, and manipulate, they are extremely easy to distribute widely over networks, and they have a transitory nature. Thus, for libraries, traditional functions that depend on the ownership and relative permanence of a copy, like library lending, collection development, and preservation have been radically altered by digital technologies. Once a library or an individual has lawfully acquired a copy of a work, the first sale doctrine of the copyright law allows that the library or individual may exercise another exclusive right of copyright--the right to distribute the copy--without the permission of the copyright holder. First sale enables librarians to loan books or conduct interlibrary loan without committing copyright infringement. Currently, the first sale exception does not transfer to the digital environment. Libraries have had to shift their understanding of collection development from an ownership model to an access model. Since libraries cannot purchase digital materials outright, they must rent the access, and negotiate user terms comparable to the user and library exemptions in the copyright law. Historically, libraries have preserved materials for the use of current and future generations. A major problem now is libraries that license digital materials may not have the contractual right to preserve materials. Copyright aggregators, those industries that hold the rights to scores of copyrighted works, parlayed a major victory in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with the inclusion of a new chapter to copyright law, called Copyright Protection and Management Systems (Chapter 12). If, according to Chapter 12, users must get permission prior to accessing and using a digital work, fair use is impossible without breaking the law. Congress included a provision in the chapter, however, to allow for the technological protection provision to be studied every 3 years in order to evaluate negative impacts on fair use. Libraries remain committed to a balanced copyright law because without it, copyright cannot meet its primary objective, "to advance the progress of Science and the useful arts" for the benefit of the public. (AEF)
ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology, Syracuse University, 621 Skytop Rd., Suite 160, Syracuse, NY 13244-5290. Tel: 315-443-3640; Tel: 800-464-9107 (Toll Free); Fax: 315-443-5448; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, Syracuse, NY.