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17 U.S. Code § 108 has explicit exemptions for libraries copying works. Libraries can copy works for preservation or security purposes, and in limited cases, to replace missing or damaged works. In general, these exemptions are not applicable to educational or research uses. Other exceptions listed below do have such applications:

User requests for articles and short excerpts

Libraries can copy articles or parts of books for patrons when the copy will become the property of the patron (as opposed to being publicly posted), when the copy will be used for private study, scholarship, or research (not posted for an entire class to access), and the library posts a copyright warning.

This exception allows us to digitize articles, book chapters, and conference papers through our Desktop Delivery service.

Interlibrary loan

Library lending of whole works like books and videos through interlibrary loan services have long been considered legal under first sale doctrines. Making copies of articles and book chapters are covered by the library exception section of copyright law. As long as these copies become the property of the requestor and are for private study, scholarship, or research as above, this exception applies.

This is why materials obtained through other libraries' lending process cannot be further distributed through systems like Scholar. If you need to post an article or book chapter we do not have local access to, indicate this use in the notes field of the interlibrary loan request form. ILL will attempt to purchase a copy that includes rights for classroom distribution.

Unsupervised copying equipment

We post a copyright warning near our copiers. Users are still responsible for following copyright restrictions.


Contact us

  •     Gail McMillan
  • Gail M McMillan
  • Director , Scholarly Communication
  • 540-231-9252
  • gailmac@vt.edu
  • 2036 Newman Library (0434)
    560 Drillfield Drive
    Blacksburg, VA 24061
  • Anita Walz
  • Open Education and Online Learning Environments Librarian
  • 540-231-2204
  • arwalz@vt.edu
  • 207B Newman Library (0434)
    560 Drillfield Drive
    Blacksburg, VA 24061