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Copyright for Libraries

A resource to help librarians understand copyright issues.

Library Loan/Rental of Videos

Libraries may loan/rent videos, in whatever available format, to patrons for their personal use. This is true even if the video is labeled "For Home Use Only." The first sale exception (§109) copyright allows an owner of a work to lend, rent or other depose of the work. Because of this, libraries can lend, people can sell videos or books at their garage sale, Amazon call sell new and used books, and second hand book stores are a legitimate business.

  • Libraries should not knowingly loan a video to groups for use in (non-educational) public performances. If a patron inquires about a planned performance of a video, he or she should be informed that only private uses of it are lawful.
  • If libraries are aware that library patrons are checking out videos or DVDs in order to copy them, the patron should be advised that the use is not lawful. Having a policy regarding the lending of works, especially those works that can be easily copied should be developed. In this way, if a librarian has reason to believe that works are copied without authorization, she can invoke the policy and suspend lending privileges.
  • Libraries can charge a nominal fee for use of videos.
  • While not required by law, librarians can label videos and DVDs with a copyright warning statement such as "This work may be protected by copyright. Further reproduction and distribution may be an infringement under the copyright law (17 U.S.Code)."