English translation of German title, digital format

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  • Our library plans to purchase the English version of a German manual in digital format. We are open to the public and the file would only be for use in the library. When I checked OCLC last week there were only 2 libraries with holdings for the German version. I anticipate that this may be a very popular item. Could we treat requests for copies of TOC or a small section (table or list) as we would an ILL for an article?
  • A few clarifying questions: You say there are only 2 libraries that hold the German version, but your version is in English, correct? How many libraries have the English version? Also, how do you usually handle ILL requests for digital manuals?
  • Thanks for asking for clarification - redid OCLC search, found 2 records for the English version this time, looks like about 17 holders. We are a government library so most of our digital materials are in the public domain. This title would be part of a special collection that we will be promoting outside our regular patron base. So we would like to get our policy in place prior to any requests.
  • For most of our digital materials, we deal with license agreements instead of (or in conjunction with) copyright. If you do sign (or click through) a license agreement for the manual, my understanding is that it would supercede copyright law.

    If there is no license agreement, then I don't see any reason why limited copying wouldn't be allowed, within the same parameters that we currently follow and that you describe in your question.

    One caveat: for convenience, most libraries use CONTU guidelines for journal articles as a rule, and many then modify them for books, considering chapters to be roughly equivalent to articles. This is convenient and, I believe, widely accepted, but my understanding is that it does not have the force of law, which would require a fair use analysis in this circumstance. The format can impact that fair use analysis. Therefore, you might want to consider, when relying on CONTU, providing copies in paper format (perhaps then faxed or scanned to send through Ariel, Odyssey, or some other document delivery system). While this causes extra work, I know that I, personally, feel more comfortable with these safeguards against improper additional copying.

    By the way, all this assumes that the English version is published in the United States. If this is a German publication, then I'll leave the analysis for those more familiar with international copyright.
  • Even if it's a German publication, if the copying actions are taking place in the U.S., it's U.S. law that applies.

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