Exceptions to Copyright

Fair Use

Section 107 of the copyright law recognizes that there are times when it is reasonable and legal to copy and distribute without permission. The four determining factors below are taken directly from the text of section 107 and they underlie the Checklist for Fair Use developed by Kenneth Crews.

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Exceptions for Libraries & Archives

There are two major exceptions that the Baker Library and the Archives take advantage of.

  • Interlibrary Loan. Under the CONTU Guidelines on Photocopying for Interlibrary Loan a limited number of copies of recent materials may be borrowed for Baker students, faculty and staff without payment of royalties. The library contracts with the Copyright Clearance Center to pay royalties on copies that exceed the limits in those guidelines.
  • Preservation. The copyright law allows a library or archive to make a single copy of published works or three copies of unpublished works that are under copyright for the purpose of preservation. Likewise, it allows them to make single copies of published works as replacements if new copies cannot be obtained at a fair price.
  • Reserves. In addition, the library takes advantage of the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with Respect to Books and Periodicals as reprinted in the Copyright Office’s Circular 21 to make limited numbers of copies of reserve readings available to students on a one-time basis without permission. The library requires permission to be granted for further uses.

Persons with Disabilities

Section 121 of the copyright law provides for the reproduction of certain materials into specialized formats for persons with disabilities that make it difficult for them to use those materials in the original formats.


Other limitations to the copyright law are spelled out within the law in sections relating to certain performances, secondary transmissions, ephemeral recordings, computer programs and satellite carriers.