scanning and emailing documents

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  • What is the legality of scanning an article from a journal (that our library owns) and emailing it as a .pdf to internal staff?
  • Are you doing it person-to-person, or library-to-person? In other words, if you personally are sharing an article with someone, I can't see a problem. If the library is doing it, I also can't see it being any different from an ILL, really. Or when you say staff, are you talking plural -- everyone in a department, for example? There you run into slightly iffier territory. Is this part of some educational initiative in the department, like internal training? Could you instead send them a link to the article?
  • It sounds as though Heather is talking about scanning an article from a print journal to distribute to her colleagues in the library--is that correct, Heather?

    If so, in my opinion this easily meets the criteria for a fair use of the article, given that:

    Purpose= research, criticism, comment or instruction (I'm assuming that the purpose fits one of these areas?)

    Nature= The article is published and presumably factual in content (rather than a highly creative work)

    Amount=the entire article, but that may be necessary to effectively communicate the educational objective

    Effect=negligible, as the library already purchased a copy of the journal, presumably one copy is being scanned and distributed to a limited number of staff, and there is no obvious negative effect on the market--assuming, of course, that no one then posts the .pdf to the web, right?

    I see this as a perfectly reasonable and legitimate use of a journal article that your library owns. If the article is available through one of the library databases, then Janet's suggestion to simply email a link to it from the database would be an even more simple way to distribute the article to your colleagues.
  • I think that there's more to consider on the fair use analysis on this one. Under Effect, I think some would argue that there's a significant effect of sharing in this way, especially if electronic subscriptions or single copies are available for purchase. It seems like the Texaco decision, online at, might be applicable here.

    Personally, I think it's iffy enough with the information given that I would want to know more before making a determination on fair use.
  • Before thinking about this in terms of copyright, Heather, I would think about this in terms of possibly avoiding copyright issues: Is this an article that is available on a licensed database (to your institution) and therefore you can send a link and an excerpt? While it does require more effort by your patrons/co-workers by clicking on a link rather than immediately able to read the article, that way you don't need to think about copyright and fair use. Another simple thing to look at is whether the article is marked in the copyright statement as either "education copying allowed" or similar language, or licensed under a non-commercial copying license. One final note -- some articles are specifically written to be copied and used for educational use and even state this within the body of the article.

    There are several important factors in terms of sharing owned documents in light of Texaco. In Texaco, a library in a for-profit instution was purchasing *one* copy of journals and circulating copies to the entire institution. In light of this (and the general social practice in institutions to make photocopies of everything, though this does not always fall into fair use), think about how you are planning to use this article. Are you going to frequently repeat this scanning/emailing? If so, will it be from the same journal?

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