book covers on websites and book lists

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  • A group of public librarians and I are putting together book lists to support a statewide project. The book lists will be available on a website for anyone to download, print, and distribute. We would like the book lists to include thumbnail images of the book jackets. What would we need to do to comply with copyright law?
  • I would suggest exploring the options that Amazon Web Services offers. We obtain book jacket images for our OPAC this way, although I'm not certain which exact service we use. See
  • I have argued elsewhere that the use of book covers as you describe is fair use because it is non-profit, aims to enrich people's lives so it is socially beneficial, only small thumbnails are displayed, the books have been lawfully acquired and that the use does not affect the sale of books - in fact, it might enhance sales.

    There is a licensing market available as ckristof suggests. If you are concerned about getting into trouble, then you should look into that. I think that the existence of a licensing market does not rule out fair use.

    Many many libraries do this -- I don't know if they have acquired licenses to do so. I have not heard of any legal action against a library or book club for the use of book covers.

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