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Guide to Copyright: Library Copying

Copying in the library

The library exemptions in the Act permit library staff to make copies for end users or library collections under certain conditions.  This is most relevant to inter library loans departments but the same conditions apply to all library staff.  The following information is a brief summary of what is permitted, however library staff should refer to the CONUL Briefing Paper on Copyright for detailed guidance on all aspects of library copying.  See also sections 53-58 of the Act for further information.

Copying for an individual end user

Library staff can make or supply copies for an end user if the individual has signed a declaration stating that the copy is for research or private study and that s/he has not previously been supplied with a copy of same (unless lost, stolen, discarded, destroyed or a reasonable period has elapsed). The library should not make or supply copies if it is known that the declaration is false.  It does not matter whether the end user is in another institution as long as they fulfill the same requirements.  The quantities which may be copied are as follows:

  • Monographs:  not more than a reasonable proportion of any work.  Decisions on what is reasonable should be based on the perceived economic impact on the copyright holder.
  • Periodicals:  not more articles from a volume of a periodical than the number of issues that comprise that volume or 10%, whichever is greater.
  • The library may supply a maximum of three copies of the same material to people whose requirements are similar or related.

Copying for a library's collection

The library can copy a work from its own permanent collection for the purpose of preservation or replacement for itself or for another prescribed library only where it is not possible to purchase a copy of the work.  A copy may only be made and supplied to another prescribed library provided that reasonable enquiry has been made to obtain the consent of the copyright holder. 

The Act defines prescribed libraries under specific categories.  All CONUL libraries are prescribed libraries.  Libraries which are part of a commercial organisation are not prescribed, therefore UL library may not make or supply a copy for the collections of libraries in companies or private colleges without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.

Copyright queries

This overview of copyright is for students and staff of the University of Limerick.  It is not a complete guide and should not be taken as legal advice.  Copyright queries may be directed to Cora Gleeson Librarian, Collection Services or Ciara McCaffrey, Deputy Librarian, Glucksman Library.