January 21, 2022

U.S. Copyright Office Releases Section 108 Discussion Document

From the U.S. Copyright Office/Library of Congress:

The U.S. Copyright Office today released its Section 108 Discussion Document.

Congress enacted section 108 of Title 17 in 1976, authorizing libraries and archives to reproduce and distribute, without permission, certain copyrighted works on a limited basis for the purposes of preservation, replacement, and research.

2017-09-15_11-16-34However, the exceptions outlined in section 108 did not anticipate and no longer address the ways in which copyrighted works are created, distributed, preserved, and accessed in the twenty-first century.

The Discussion Document emphasizes the Copyright Office’s longstanding position that section 108 needs to be updated so that libraries, archives, and museums have a robust, comprehensible, and balanced safe harbor to fulfill their missions.

The primary objective of the Discussion Document is to provide a concrete framework for further discussion among stakeholders and members of Congress.

In an effort to provide this framework, the Discussion Document includes model statutory language to guide future discussions and to assist in generating consensus on various discrete issues, such as adding museums to the statute; allowing preservation copies to be made of all works in an eligible entity’s collections; replacing the current three-copy limit with a “reasonably necessary” standard when making copies for preservation and research; clarifying the contract supremacy provision to grant libraries, archives, and museums more flexibility to make preservation and security copies of works covered by licensing and purchasing agreements; and eliminating the exclusion of musical, pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, and motion pictures or other audiovisual works from the provisions permitting copies made upon the request of users, under certain conditions.

Direct to Section 108 Discussion Document
72 pages; PDF

Direct to Background Material


See Also: New Research Resource: U.S. Copyright Office Posts Archive of Briefs and Legal Opinions (September 14, 2017)

UPDATE:  “Revisiting Section 108”
Commentary by David Hansen, Duke University (via Duke University Scholarly Communications Blog)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.