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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Interlibrary Loan

How does copyright work in ILL?

Copyright Law:

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research". If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use", that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

Copyright and Interlibrary Loan:

Interlibrary loan services are allowed to obtain copyrighted material from other libraries if that material is intended for private study and research. It may not be shared with others or used for profit. Faculty may not use interlibrary loan services to request materials for course reserve. Copyright permissions are obtained and fees paid on any material that exceeds the amounts specified by the CONTU guidelines which aid the interpretation of U.S. copyright law.

This is just a very brief introduction to copyright as it applies it interlibrary loan. Copyright rules are quite complicated.

Journal articles:

Copyright fees apply after we receive more than five articles per journal title per calendar year for journals published within the last five years. (This is the "rule-of-five" from the CONTU guidelines). For publications more than five years old staff determine what total quantity of copying is appropriate.

We cannot order complete journal issues via interlibrary loan. If you wish to see an entire issue, please contact the ILL department, and staff will investigate if it is possible to purchase the issue.

EWU library pays the copyright fees for copies received on behalf of our students, faculty and researchers. Copyright fees per article can vary a great deal from journal to journal, ranging from about $10 to $90 or more, $30-$40 is usual.

Book chapters:

Copyright also applies to copies of book chapters. If you need more than one chapter please order the actual book instead.


We do not pay interlibrary loan copyright fees for materials that EWU owns, for most government documents, or for Open Access materials.

Books published in the United States prior to 1924 are copyright-free (these are in the public domain). A book, or other copyrightable work, enters the public domain when its copyright lapses (95 yrs) or when the copyright owner releases it to the public domain.