Library Web Pages

Spring Hill College -- Thomas Byrne Library

Interlibrary Loan and Copyright

Systematic copying of copyrighted materials is not permitted. However, for interlibrary loan purposes where there is no intent to substitute copying for a subscription to or purchase of a work, certain copying is considered fair use. The Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) guidelines are summarized as follows:

  • Periodicals published within 5 years of a patron's request are included in the guidelines, The concept is known as the "rule of five." Periodicals older than five years are not addressed by the guidelines, but they are not to be considered fair game for unlimited copying. Copyright term is still in effect. Section 108 or 107 criteria apply.
  • During a calendar year, no more than 6 copies may be requested and reproduced from any single periodical title (NOT single issue). If the requesting library uses a periodical title that heavily, the library should subscribe to it.
  • "With respect to other material described in 108(d), including poetry and fiction anthologies, filled requests will not exceed 6 copies or phonorecords within a calendar year." The library should purchase a copy if a title is used that heavily.
  • A library may request an item that it currently owns through interlibrary loan if its copy is currently unavailable. Such a loan would not count on its annual tabulation. A library may also request a loan if the periodical is currently on order.
  • The requesting (borrowing) library must maintain records of all requests and fulfillments for copies or phonorecords for three years after the conclusion of the calendar year in which the requests were made.
  • The material must contain a clear notice of copyright



Questions and Answers


Q: May the library scan (digitize) materials into a database to share with students?
A: No. This act would constitute "systematic copying."

Q: May a copy of an interlibrary loan article be placed on library reserve?
A: No. An article obtained through interlibrary loan belongs to the person who requested it and may be used for personal study only.

Q: May a library retain copies of articles it received for interlibrary loan patrons?
A: No, not without permission from the copyright holder and payment of royalty fees.

Q: Can a library make a copy of an article or other contribution to a collective work such as an anthology for a patron?
A: Yes, under the following conditions:

  1. The copy becomes the property of the patron.

  2. The copy is for purposes of private study, scholarship, or not-for-profit research.

  3. At the place where the library accepts ILL orders, it posts a notice of copyright as follows:


    The copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies and other reproductions of copyrighted material.

    Under certain conditions specified by law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or reproduction.

    One of these specific 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 reserve the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.


  4. The ILL request form contains the above notice.

Q: May a college professor reproduce an entire article from a scholarly journal for use by her or his class?
A: Yes, if the conditions of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect are met.

Q: May a professor make copies of an article from a journal in the library collection to place on reserve?
A: Yes. Photocopying the article would be fair use.

Q: Can material photocopied for the fall semester of a course be used again in the spring semester of the course?
A: No. The theory is that if in the first semester, the material was useful enough that the faculty desires to repeat its use, the faculty would have adequate time to obtain permission to reproduce the work.

Q: May a professor make photocopies of a workbook or standardized test for use in preparing the class for an upcoming exam?
A: No. Workbooks, exercises, standardized tests, test booklets and answer guides are consumables, and their reproduction is not fair use.

Q: If a professor teaches two sections of the same course, may the same material be photocopied for both sections?
A: Yes, provided the copy is legally obtained or falls under the fair use exemption.

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Revised: 03/10/01