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Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan and Copyright

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.

Interlibrary Loan and Photocopies of Journal Articles

The copyright law does not provide a quantitative definition of how many photocopies from a journal can be received by a library for interlibrary loan. The National Commission on new Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) in 1978 issued guidelines to help libraries comply with copyright law. The Grace Doherty Library follows CONTU guidelines, as follows:


For any given journal or periodical title within a given year, the library is allowed, under CONTU guidelines, to obtain an institutional total of 5 photocopies of articles published within the past 5 years of the current year. The sixth time we are asked to get an article from a particular journal in this time frame, we must look at the following alternatives:

  1. Decline to fill your request (sometimes necessary).
  2. Ask you to wait for a new calendar year when the count of five will begin anew.