What is Library Copyright Liability?

Under the Indian Copyright Act, library books are also protected. The original owner of the work will continue to hold the rights for his/her work, even when their work is listed in the library’s collection. Copyright Liability of the library is that the library will be held liable for unauthorised duplication of the work for its own gain, or the personal gains of its members.

Since the materials available in the library continues to have copyright protection, it means that one cannot make use of the materials in a library for personal gain – doing so will lead to copyright infringement and will also go against the moral rights of the copyright owner.

Just like any other copyright material, only the original owner of the copyright can use the material in the library to make copies, for personal gain or in anyways as he or she deems fit. Anyone else would need the permission of the owner to make copies, translate and make other derivatives of the original work for monetary gain. Unauthorised use will, quite simply, lead to infringement.

Copyright Liability for a Library

When it comes to the copyrighted work in a library, it can only be used for leading, and copies made, if any, can only be used for private study, research or scholarship.

If the patron copies the copyrighted library material and publishes or reproduces the work for monetary gain, it will lead to infringement.

Would the Library be Held Liable?

The member who infringes is held liable. However, the liability is also placed on the library when people make a copy of the material in the library, under the directions of the supervisor.

Therefore, in case the copy is made by a person without the involvement of the library or its supervisors, then, such liability of infringement will not fall on the library, and will completely be the patron’s burden.

This is the reason that libraries are advised to place a notice warning their patrons about copyright infringement. This reduces the library’s burden during instances of infringement by patrons.

What Copies Can a Library Make?

Under the law, a library is allowed to make certain copies for their members without the permission of the owner of the copyright, and these acts would not lead to infringement.

A library can make up to three copies of the copyright material for the purpose of records and preservation. However, the basic mandates of the copyright laws would have to be adhered to. They are that:

  • Copies cannot be made for commercial gain
  • Even the reproduced copies must carry a notice of copyright
  • The library is not limited to the researches but is also open to the public.

Copies Can the Members Can Make

The members of the library are allowed to make only one copy of the work without the permission of the owner. As long as it is not used for personal gain or for any other money-making purposes.

Pirate Patrons and Piracy of Books

When people make unauthorised copies of books and use them for monetary gain, it is called piracy. When a case of piracy is proven, it is a sure sign of copyright infringement.

Pirate patrons refer to people who make a copy of the work and upload to the internet for the purpose of reaching multiple audiences. Pirate patrons don’t seek any monetary compensation; however, their actions can affect the library, if the library has such knowledge of the duplication of the work. 

How to Stop Piracy of Books

  • The source of piracy should be identified and stopped.
  •  Criminal proceeding should be initiated by the writers and publishers when copyright infringement occurs.  
  • A protected network can be used by online lending libraries to ensure that people don’t copy the content.


There is a huge amount of copyright material which is being spread across the internet. This probably popular because it is faster and easier to disseminate information. Copyright registration will not stop duplication of work. It is the responsibility of the publishers and writers to ensure infringement is stopped. 

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