Copying CDs

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  • We have a patron at our public library who has told a member of our staff that she is checking out our CDs for a friend or relative who is a DJ. This seems like a violation of copyright to me, but I don't know how to prevent this person from continuing to do this--if she hadn't volunteered this information, we wouldn't have known what she does with the CDs once she leaves the library.

    So, here are the three questions we're wondering: 1. What are the legal
    implications for us checking out materials to this patron when we know she
    is copying them and using them for profit? 2. Can we legally restrict her music CD borrowing privileges? And 3. If we wanted to turn her in for copyright abuse, to whom would we report her?

    Any advice or insight is appreciated!
  • Whether it's illegal or not depends on the specific circumstances, and as usual you would have to see if it falls under copyright exemptions such as fair use or others. From that information, it is difficult to tell.

    The library lends out materials, and as long as they have the public notices about copyright, they are not liable for the user's use. Additionally, libraries are exempt from statutory damages by 504(c)(2)(i). If it were the case that librarians enforced copyright, you'd have to check every material checked out for user's potential infringement, including books, magazines, articles, copies, etc. Now that you know that the use might be illegal it becomes more of an ethical question than a legal one, I believe.

    I would suggest advising the person that the use might be illegal, and why I'm going to quote Carrie's Complete Copyright book in a section that addresses this type of question:

    "Educate them. Develop a solid copyright presentation and help them understand why their behavior might be unlawful. Give them a chance to change their behavior based on the copyright knowledge you share with them. Of course, if teachers, students, or library users are clearly infringing, such as systematically borrowing every one of the library's videotapes to make their own personal copies or copyright workbooks for each student in class instead of purchasing them, tell them to stop and explain why their behavior is infringing. If it is in your power, suspend library privileges or report the incident to a higher authority. Remember that you will never be able to completely control the actions of your users. If you have made every effort to educate them, you have done your job." (p. 139, under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Creative Commons licnese. ^_^)

    There are sample copyright presentations in the book.

    I'm not sure about the second question at all. ^_^; I would guess it depends on your local laws and policies.

    I would try education before any reporting. Normally, the copyright holder or an authorized representative of the copyright holder must be involved for legal action (up to a point where it becomes criminal, I believe).

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