Legal Question in Intellectual Property in District of Columbia

electronic library

Is it legal to download an article from the www (after googling and finding reserach) to put in an electronic library repository for reserachers to use when they reserach their project if you just list the URL? If not what do you need to have, I have 100 documents at least


Asked on 8/03/07, 1:03 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Mitchell Interaction Law

Re: electronic library

Your question asks if it is legal to “download” an article “put in” an electronic library “if you just list the URL”. I am a bit confused. To “download” is to “reproduce” the article, or copy it. If the article was found at a website that offered it for download (as in “click here to download”) by or under the authority of the author (the copyright holder), then the act of downloading would be a reproduction authorized by the copyright holder, so I see no problem in downloading. But why the URL? If the URL points to the copy you downloaded and you do not have a license to display it publicly or to authorize others to reproduce it, then it may be infringing of one or more of the rights under Section 106 unless it fits within one of the non-infringing uses under Sections 107-122. If the URL points to the website from which you lawfully obtained it, then you are simply directing others to where people can do the same, which courts have held to be lawful.

To illustrate, if you buy a legal copy of a book at a bookstore, you are not authorized to reproduce it and post it on your website, but your website can certainly identify the book and direct people to the bookstore.

In short, examine the factual details, and check with a lawyer in DC. (I am not your lawyer, and this is not my legal advice to you. If you wish to retain me, that will be a separate off-list discussion. This is just to point you in the right direction.)

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Answered on 8/03/07, 1:39 pm


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