Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Copyright Corner

Charles Oppenheim answers your copyright queries.

Reproduction of Table of Contents

Nicholas Joint, Andersonian Library, University of Strathclyde, asked:

This puzzles me- it is clearly a breach of copyright to digitise tables of contents from journals and circulate them to library users as a form of current awareness service without explicit prior permission from the copyright holder for each Table of Contents (TOC). The table of contents is effectively the first complete article in a journal and has to be treated as such.

However, tables of contents from books are treated differently - many in print bibliographies and cataloguing coooperative services list monograph tables of contents in their electronic database services, yet they would not include a chapter from a book in this way. A library could digitise and distribute book tables of contents via it web pages or opac in the same way.

How does the law define this difference? And how does it treat the grey area of a monograph series with both an ISBN and an ISSN? Could a Library proactively distribute tables of contents from a monograph series arriving at quarterly intervals while refraining from distributing TOCs from a conventional serial published quarterly?

Charles replies:

Librarians in prescribed libraries may only make copies for patrons under the library privileges if they receive a request for such a copy, if a signed copyright declaration form is received, and if payment is made for the copy. They can also make a copy under fair dealing if they receive a request from a patron. Either way, they need to receive a request - they cannot make copies pro-actively though licences may allow them to do this.

Assuming the librarian is making the copy under library privileges, then the law permits making a copy of one article in a periodical, and making of a copy of “a part” of a literary work other than a periodical. Librarians can make a copy of a table of contents in a periodical - the TOC is an “article”, but then cannot make a copy of another article from the same issue for the patron.

To sum up - it is breach of copyright for anyone to pro-actively copy chunks of any text, whether a journal or a book, unless it has a licence to do so. Reactive copying (on request) of a TOC of a journal or a part of a book are both equally permitted; the one restriction is that one cannot copy a TOC and an article from the same issue of the periodical.

Thus, the situation is not quite as you describe it, and almost certainly the fact that some service reproduce TOCs in their services is all to do with the licence they have. Either that, or they are infringing!

OCR-ing and UK Law

Chris Willis, Copyright Administrator - OPEL Project, Birkbeck College Library, had the following query regarding OCR and the imtegrity of documents:

I’m currently OCRing a lot of articles, and I’m a little concerned about legal liability for any mistakes that creep in. We proofread carefully, but from my previous experience as a journalist, I know that not all mistakes get spotted, even with 3 people double-checking everything at every stage!

If an error appears in an OCRed article, are we legally responsible and could we be sued by the author and/or publisher? I raised this question at a recent seminar and got a variety of replies. I’m presuming the short answer is “yes” but I’d be interested to get any informed views on this.

I’d also be interested to hear what other people do about proofreading. Do you do it yourselves and/or get a professional in? All advice appreciated!

Charles’ answer:
Yes, you are liable, but your liability only becomes significant if you were reckless or negligent. If you used your best endeavours, your liability could reduce to zero.

Copyright of Art Images

Sarah Kennedy Subject Librarian for Humanities and Social Sciences, Worcester College of Higher Education wrote:

Could you let me know if there are any copyright licences that cover artwork and images apart from the DACS licence for slides?

Charles replies:
None in the UK to my knowledge.

Fair Dealing with regard to Slides and Images

Alec J. Hartill, HARTILL ART ASSOCIATES, Canada, sent the following query:

In the US but not in Canada (yet!) there is a law giving exemptions to university libraries/staff/faculty/students when copying material ex-books for study purposes etc. This is so-called FAIR USE but I know it is a very much abused exemption and I won’t go into all the situations that I am aware of but I think you are aware of this problem. My question revolves around IMAGES, whether from the Inter Net or from hard copy as in SLIDES; under what circumstances may an individual in a British university make a copy of such illustration/image/slide without getting copyright clearances?

Charles replies:

Fair dealing, as the exception is known in the UK, applies to images. So, an individual may make a copy (or indeed in theory more than one copy) of an image for the purposes of research, private study, criticism or review, or for reporting current events (the last permission does not extend to photographs). The copying must be “fair”, i.e. not damage the copyright owner’s legitimate interests. Making such copies requires no formalities or payment to the copyright owner.

In addition, there are certain educational permissions allowing teachers to copy artistic works whilst teaching (but the copying must not be by a reprographic process) or in setting examinations.

Librarians in the UK are not permitted to make copies of images for the clients under the library privileges.

Finally, there are various licensing schemes around. One, the DACS scheme, specifically applies to slides and images, and it is possible that the university is a member of that scheme; in such cases, further copying may be allowed - it all depends on the terms of the licence.

Author details

Prof Charles Oppenheim,
Co-Director, International Institute of Electronic Library Research
Division of Learning Development
De Montfort University
Hammerwood Gate, Kents Hill