Piece by Piece Review of Digitize-and-Lend Projects Through the Lens of Copyright and Fair Use

36 Legal Reference Services Quarterly 51 (2017)

26 Pages Posted: 16 May 2017 Last revised: 25 Mar 2021

See all articles by Michelle M. Wu

Michelle M. Wu

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: May 2, 2017


Digitize-and-lend library projects can benefit societies in multiple ways, from providing information to people in remote areas, to reducing duplication of effort in digitization, to providing access to people with disabilities. Such projects contemplate not just digitizing library titles for regular patron use, but also allowing the digitized versions to be used for interlibrary loan (ILL), sharing within consortia, and replacing print copies at other libraries. Many of these functions are already supported within the analog world (e.g., ILL), and the digitize-and-lend concept is largely a logical outgrowth of technology, much like the transitioning from manual hand duplication of books to printing presses. The purpose of each function is to facilitate user access to information. Technology can amplify that access, but in doing so, libraries must also be careful not to upset the long established balance in copyright, where authors’ rights sit on the other side of the scale from public benefit.

This article seeks to provide a primer on the various components in a digitize-and-lend project, explore the core copyright issues in each, and explain how these projects maintain the balance of copyright even as libraries take advantage of newer technologies.

Keywords: Copyright, Digital collections, Digital libraries, Digitization, Law libraries

JEL Classification: I20, K00, K39, O30

Suggested Citation

Wu, Michelle M., Piece by Piece Review of Digitize-and-Lend Projects Through the Lens of Copyright and Fair Use (May 2, 2017). 36 Legal Reference Services Quarterly 51 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2968410

Michelle M. Wu (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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