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Resources for Interlibrary Loan

Ask a Lawyer


In partnership with the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC), the Capital District Library Council (CDLC) has retained the services of an attorney to offer CDLC and its members timely input on intellectual property, digital rights management, vendor contracts, first amendment, civil rights, employment law, and other legal issues that can impact library operations.

Recently Asked Questions 

Recent questions and responses for the lawyer are available. Many of the questions relate to copyright law, and could be helpful for ILL practitioners.

CDLC received a question about the CONTU guidelines and how they applied to single institutions with multiple branches or locations. 

Here is the response we received. Please note, CDLC is not directly offering legal advice or assistance. 

Basic Copyright Rules to Remember


  • Rule of 5 (when requesting articles that were published within the past 5 years)
    • Within a calendar year (Jan- Dec) you can not request more than 5 copies of any articles from a given journal title. If you request more than 5 articles you must pay the publisher for the journal article.
  • Although the material is being used in an educational setting, it doesn't mean Fair Use is an excuse to get and distribute free copies of an item.
    • Use this Checklist created by Cornell University to help determine if 'Fair Use' is applicable.
  • Patrons must be made aware of copyright.
    • Copies must prominently display the copyright warning. 


  • You can not photocopy or scan more than half of a book unless it is in public domain or out of copyright.
    • Most government documents are in the public domain.
  • When sending copies from a database/eJournal, make sure it is within your contract to be able to do so.
  • Patrons must be made aware of copyright.
    • Copies must prominently display the copyright warning.

Fair Use

Public Domain

Copyright Resources

Further Reading


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