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Re: Document Delivery and Copyright Laws

With apologies for not having replied earlier to this query.

Document delivery is unquestionably a contentious issue, and I can
speak  only in respect of the law in the United Kingdom. However, the
world's largest document delivery organisation, the British Library
Document Supply Centre, is based here and sends its copies all over the

Within the UK and to many other countries, BLDSC supplies many copies
under provisions of UK copyright law generally referred to as the
library privileges. Where these provisions do not apply, either because
the copying goes beyond the restrictions, or because the recipient
wishes to use the material for purposes other than research or private
study, or because the importation of the copies could place the
recipient in breach of local copyright laws, BLDSC offers an alternative
Copyright Fee Paid service for which the client has to pay an additional
sum, over and above the standard service charge, which is then forwarded
to the copyright holder, either directly or by way of my employer the
Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) in the UK. These fees are determined by
the copyright holder and are specific to the publication; they vary from
nothing to tens of pounds per copy article. All copies supplied by BLDSC
to the USA are copyright fee paid. 

CLA would not license a commercial document delivery organisation to
copy from material held in public or university libraries. BLDSC
subscribes to the periodicals from which it copies and despite being
part of the British Library and thus entitled to legal deposit copies it
does not use these for its document delivery service. 

In other countries there are different circumstances. I believe that in
the USA most document delivery copyright fees are paid through the
Copyright Clearance Center's Transactional Reporting Service, and the
fees are broadly similar (taking into account currency variations) to
the copyright fees charged by BLDSC. 

In France, INIST is a major supplier and charges a flat fee for
copyright clearance on top of the service charge; it is, however,
applied to all documents supplied - there is no library privilege

Differences in practice, and in particular differences in library
privileges under copyright law, create distortions in what is an
international market. Since document delivery is a commercial activity
which can practically be licensed by the RROs, there is a strong
argument that library privileges which permit it are fundamentally
incompatible with Art.9.2 of the Berne Convention (and also Art 13 of

[The opinions expressed  are mine and not necessarily those of the
Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd]
Edward Barrow


Jack Hodges wrote:
> Greetings,
> I would like to ask a question related to the national and international
> copyright laws. To be more specific let's take document delivery
> companies. A client can order any article, journal or book published and
> stored in the US or any other library. Then the library personnel or a
> university student will make a photocopy of the specific pages of a
> journal or a publication and deliver the copies to the client. Seems like
> a straight forward process. But what about the copyright? I understand
> that when it comes to delivery of the US published materials, document
> suppliers can track (only if they want to) the source and pay the
> copyright fees. Is there a specific amount a document supplier must pay to
> a publisher or to the clearance center? What if US based document delivery
> company is photocopying foreign journals stored in foreign repositories?
> Another question, I noticed that many document delivery companies use
> university libraries to photocopy materials. Is that legal?
> I am doing a research on international copyright laws and can not find
> answers to these questions anywhere on the web.
> Thank you very much for your time.
> JH
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