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Happy National Library Week

April 12, 2018

Forgotten, neglected and orphan books printed between 1923 – 1941, are on a new path thanks to an easy to understand section of 108 (Title 17 US Code)m Internet Archive and ALA Advocacy.

Professor Townsend Gard’s paper on “Creating a Last Twenty (L20) Collection: Implementing Section 108(h) in Libraries, Archives and Museums”, advocates for libraries and archives to take advantage of the exception to U.S. copyright law.

The library or archives may reproduce, distribute, display, or perform in facsimile or digital form any work in the last 20 years of its copyright term for purposes of preservation, research or scholarship. This change to Section 108 was made to address the concerns of libraries and non-profit educational institutions planning to reproduce and distribute materials that would have fallen into the public domain if the copyright term extension act [of 1998] had not been passed. This means that, although the term of copyright has been extended by 20 years [beyond 1922], libraries may copy or digitize works that are in the last 20 years of their copyright term. In order to take advantage of this exemption, however, libraries should make a reasonable effort to determine that:

  • the work is not subject to normal commercial exploitation,
  • a copy cannot be obtained at a reasonable price, and
  • the copyright holder has not filed notice regarding either of the above conditions

Libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) are encouraged to further advocate by:

  • Taking advantage of legal exception to U.S. copyright law.
  • Creating educational opportunities through webinars or conference programs
  • Creating and testing checklists for implementing the given copyright exceptions, (see Jennifer Howard’s “Copyright Mavericks” article)
  • Working with colleagues who specialize in digitization, metadata, and copyright guidelines and practices


As libraries and archives are the recipient of this legal exception, we should apply it when applicable opportunities arise in our daily work, to show that the exception is an important one and to provide our patrons continued access to information.

See more – Cen Cheng April 11,2018 –

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