Can I "borrow" a copyrighted thing?
October 17, 2006 11:28 AM   Subscribe

How does copyright work when the material is in a library? Specifically, I'm thinking of the contents of a CD-ROM that is supplied with a book on computer skills. There are presets on the CD that the owner of the book can install and use in the program under discussion, and these are copyrighted. But the book is in the library... Can I use the presets as a borrower?
posted by dpcoffin to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Well...first up, you are confusing Copyright and End User Licensing. Copyright is a very specific right that is involved in reproduction of something. For instance, if you burned a new copy of that CD-ROM, you would be infringing on Copyright.

Use of the software on the CD-ROM, on the other hand, is governed by a set of licenses. Said license can claim practically anything...and depending on how outrageous the claims, is enforcable or not, legally speaking.

Be assured that IANAL nor should you consider this legal counsel, but here's my take. You should be able to legally install and use the software for the time you have the book checked out, and should delete the program when you return the book.

There are a million "but"s and "if"s though. The legal way is neither well-lit nor particularly easy to find...if you give more details (especially the details of the EULA of the software) it might be clearer.
posted by griffey at 12:20 PM on October 17, 2006

If you're looking for the general rule here, it's exactly the same as borrowing a CD or a video from the library. You can watch it (ie view and play with the presets), but you can't make permanent copies. Those are your basic rights.

However, it's very likely that the publisher's will have granted the owner or reader of the book additional rights (eg using the presets in projects) and will discuss them either in the book or in some kind of license on the CD, and that'll answer your question. If there isn't one (or it doesn't seem to cover library borrowers), then you're not allowed to copy them.
posted by cillit bang at 5:09 PM on October 17, 2006

Read up on First-sale doctrine. It basically says that once you buy a book (and has been amended to include some other media) that you can do pretty much whatever you want with it. That means you can lend it out, rent it out, throw it out, whatever. One thing you can't do is create copies of the book, you don't have the right to copy, only the copyright owner does.

Because the library isn't making a copy of the book when they lend it out, they're in the clear.

However, if you install software, you are making a copy, and I have no idea how copyright law deals with that. Probably in some outdated way.

BIG OL' CAVEAT: IANAL and I got most of my knowledge of copyright law from Slashdot, which is kind of like giving an opinon on a murder case because you watch Law & Order.
posted by revgeorge at 6:35 PM on October 17, 2006

follow up from a lawyer librarian friend of mine, not me

This is not legal advice. It is up to the patron to make
the determination, just as s/he does when copying pages from a book that s/he checked out. The patron needs to evaluate

(1) Copyright. Unless the copyright owner has given permission to users (via creative commons license or other clear permission statement), the user has to determine whether his/her use of the pre-sets falls under one of the exceptions or limitations to the copyright owners rights. These are in Sect. 107 - 122. S/he should particularly look at Sect. 107, also known as FAIR USE

(2) Licenses. The user may or may not have signed or clicked a license agreement when using the CD-ROM. If s/he did, then s/he is bound by the terms of the license, even if Fair Use or another copyright limitation applies.

Again, not legal advice - just some comments. The patron would need to discuss with his/her own lawyer to make sure all the facts and circumstances are considered etc.
posted by jessamyn at 6:22 PM on October 24, 2006

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