ASLIB PROC. 22(11) p.570, 1970

Letter to the Editor



Dear Sir,

The quotation in the Brookes' article1 from the Dainton Report that it is legally inadmissible to make a profit on photocopying material in copyright seems to imply that it is always legal for non-profit organizations to photocopy without the permission of copyright holders. This is undoubtedly a variant on the notion that, in the UK and elsewhere, the financial status of the library automatically determines if the doctrine of 'fair dealing' ('fair use' in the US) can be relied on. For example, Section 7 of the Copyright Act, 1956 and the Copyright (Libraries) Regulations, 1957, permits the making of a single copy of a single article from any one periodical to any person requiring it 'for purposes of research or private study' (and for no other purpose), provided he signs an undertaking to that effect2. Exemptions to the authors' or publishers' rights in other nations adhering to the Universal Copyright Convention are more severely limited. Regardless of any limitations on infringement in the current Copyright Regulations, it is certain that many more copies of copyrighted articles are made under conditions that do not adhere to the principles and rules of 'fair dealing' than are made within these boundaries. I believe that the provision of photocopies of US, German and many UK copyrighted journals is an infringement under the Universal Copyright Convention. Eventually even the National Lending Library must face this reality and arrange to pay royalties to publishers for each copy made by NLL. Certain publishers may choose to ignore NLL infringements for various diplomatic reasons. But I doubt that a publisher like Williams & Wilkins, which is presently suing the US National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicines) for copyright infringement, would feel differently about NLL, the Centre de Documentation du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique or any other copyright violator, large or small. In each case the publisher or author suffers financial loss. The fundamental issue involved in copyright is not the tax status of the infringer or his agent.
Yours sincerely,

Chairman, Proprietary Rights Committee,
Information Industry Association
(added in 2001)  E-mail:

         G. SOPHAR
Secretary, Committee to Investigate Copyright
Problems Affecting Communication in Science
and Education, Inc.


Institute for Scientific Information,
325, Chestnut Street,
Pa. 19106, USA. 10th September 1970


1.  Back to Text  BROOKES, B. C.
                        Photocopies v. Periodicals, Cost-effectiveness in the special library.
                       Journal of Documentation, 26, 1 March 1970, p. 22-9.

2.  Back to Text  PARKER, R. E.
                        'Photocopying practices in the United Kingdom.'
                        Study for Committee of Experts on the Photographic Reproduction of Protected Works,     Unesco/BIRPI, Paris, 1-5, July 1968, p. 5