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  • I work at a nonprofit research institute. Researchers here have been in the habit of maintaining files of articles which they acquired in the course of their research. All of these copies were legally acquired and copyright fees paid where applicable.
    My question is, is it permissible to maintain such files? If so, for how long? Their primary purpose seems to be as backup in case questions arise as to the conclusions reached in the course of research. However, occasionally copies of some articles have been made for other inhouse researchers working on similar topics. When this happens we pay copyright fees again so are we covered here?
    These questions have generated some debate among the library staff here so any advice you can give will be appreciated.
  • Isn't such an archive of legally acquired materials usually called a library? Sure the library is distributed throughout the organization, but from a copyright perspective it sounds like the same thing to me.

    And if you pay for every copy you make, I'd say you are more than covered.

  • Let's remember that the purpose of the copyright law is to advance the progress of science and the useful arts. Here we have researchers at a non-profit advancing science. If the articles were obtained lawfully, I don't know why there should be any concern about how long the articles are retained. I have copies of articles in my files and I am not worried about how long I keep them.

    My assumption is that the institution subscribes to journals and pays the institutional subscription fee. Or acquires the initial article copy lawfully. I think the occasional sharing of the articles with fellow researchers is fair. It does not sound like the researchers are sharing articles in order to avoid
    the purchase of a journal subscription.

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