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E-journals and requests from another Library

By Chris J Holland, on 17 November 2014

Libraries are given greater flexibility by one of the less obvious changes made to the Copyright legislation earlier this year. This concerns requests for a copy of a periodical article from one library to another and is governed by Section 41 of the Act. Many of the updated exceptions include a clause stating that they cannot be over-ruled by the terms of a contract, which tends to reverse the situation prior to the 2014 changes. Section 41 of the Act  includes such a clause:

“41(5) To the extent that a term of a contract purports to prevent or restrict the doing of any act which, by virtue of this section, would not infringe copyright, that term is unenforceable.”

It follows from this that a library may now supply a single copy of a periodical article from a given issue of an “e-periodical”, just as they may supply a copy from the print publication. The terms of the contract under which the e-periodical is supplied may formerly have prevented this, but it seems they can no longer prevail over the exception.

Naturally the libraries concerned need to be sure that they are complying with the legislation, for example the library fulfilling the request must have legitimate access to the e-periodical and must not supply more than one article from a single issue. It is important to note that this “library to library” exception does not permit the supply of copies from books unless it is practically impossible to contact the copyright owner in order to seek permission.

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