Copyright notice for photocopiers: use on non-library equipment

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  • In a non-library setting, such as a church office or other nonprofit organization, is there an advantage to placing the same kind of copyright notice on photocopiers as is required for unsupervised photocopy equipment in libraries? While it may be useful to warn people of copyright issues any place self-service copying is done, is there any legal advantage to having such a sign present--or does the exemption from liability and under Section 108 (f)(1) apply ONLY to libraries and their employees (or volunteers)?

    Secondly, is there a real liability basis for photocopy centers in locations like office supply stores refusing to allow a customer to make a self-service photocopy if the staff see a copyright symbol on the item? It feels like an incredible invasion of the customer's privacy to inspect what they want to copy and tell them that copying is not allowed without bringing written permission from the copyright holder. Furthermore, application is incredibly inconsistent from one store to the next, and from day to day in the same store. I've most often run into this issue when trying to make a color photocopy of the cardboard container for an audiobook. Often these need to be re-sized slightly, or pieced together, or just copied because the cardboard is too heavy for the overlay on the container to which the items are being transferred for circulation. Such substitute copying for newly purchased titles seems to fall clearly within the realm of fair use, but that is irrelevant in terms of store policies.
  • This section of 108 applies only to libraries. I am no expert on copyright outside of libraries, but I cannot see that there is any advantage to displaying the notice outside of a library other than an attempt to educate users on copyright law.

    Commercial copiers are liable for unauthorized copying so, regardless of whether they consistently enforce their policy, they should have one in place. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, this makes for subjective judgement on whether something is 'legal' to copy or not. I've had the same problem with commercial photos to which I purchase the negatives and copyright--I needed a receipt stating such from the photographer, which I had, but such a document is easily forged. And while your copying is legal, staff isn't trained for exceptions, just enforcement--if at all. I've been refused when they see the item; I've had them enter the code to copy without even looking at the item.

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