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Interlibrary Loan: Copyright

How does copyright work in ILL?

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.

If one person orders two or more articles from a single recent journal issue then copyright fees also apply. 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 $60 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 1923 are copyright-free (these are in the public domain).

Contact Us

Interlibrary Loan:

Hours: 7:00 am–3:30 pm, M–F

Phone: 509-359-2492


Fax: 509-359-4840

Problems or emergencies:
Contact the ILL department during business hours. If you need to report a problem after 3:30 pm or during the weekend, please contact the Circulation Desk 509-359-7888.