Three Hundred Years Since the Statute of Anne, from 1709 to Cyberspace
Edited by Lionel Bently, Uma Suthersanen and Paul Torremans
Chapter 14: The Development of Digital Libraries in the United States
14. The development of digital libraries in the United States June M. Besek* 1 WHAT IS A DIGITAL LIBRARY? What is meant by the term ‘digital libraries’? In assessing progress toward the creation of ‘digital libraries’ and considering the appropriate scope of copyright exceptions and limitations, it is worthwhile to consider whether everyone has in mind the same goal. That term likely means different things to different people. First, what is a library? In the United States there are special copyright exceptions for libraries and archives, as is true in many countries. But US copyright law does not define the terms ‘library’ and ‘archives’. It was drafted when there was a common understanding of what a library is. Now, the term ‘library’ is used more casually than in the past, often to denote a collection of any kind.1 Under US law, only activities not undertaken for direct or indirect commercial advantage are eligible for the library exceptions.2 Should that be the only threshold criterion for eligibility? In the age of the internet, the cost of making others’ works available can be negligible, and some may * Executive Director, Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts, Columbia Law School 1 Among the definitions for ‘library’ are ‘a series or set of books issued by a publisher’, ‘a collection of recorded data or tapes arranged for ease of use’, and ‘a set of things similar to a library in appearance, function, or organization: a library of computer programs’. The Free Dictionary by...
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