In the strictest sense, libraries and librarians do not need to be concerned about copyright, infringement and fair use. Traditionally, libraries may do whatever they might wish to do with the physical copies of the books and magazines they own. While ebooks and other digital resources are licensed to libraries, as opposed to owned by them, a library generally meets the obligations of it contract by not tampering with the computer programs provided by digital content providers.
However, copyright IS of great importance to library users and other members of the libraries community.. Librarians find themselves being asked copyright questions because they are authority figures at the point of service for those concerned about infringing copyright
Qatar is a member of the Berne convention, a series of international agreements governing copyright law. As a member, Qatar’s national copyright law meets the requirements of the treaties.
Copyright is part of intellectual property law. Other types of property law are real property, dealing with fixed property, such as land and buildings, and personal property, addressing property that is movable, such as food, jewellery, and cars. Intellectual property has no physical form, but it does have value. Like all property law, intellectual property addresses the legal benefits of ownership of a type of property.
Copyright is different from a patents and trademarks. Patents, which address inventions, do cover provide exclusive rights to an idea, but cover a much more limited time period than copyrights. Trademarks can only be used to identify a product in commerce and can be protected only so long as the product is actually in commerce.
Copyright covers an original expression of an idea, but it cannot preclude use of an idea itself. For example, there can be many versions of a story about a boy who studies at a school of magic and becomes a wizard. Both Ursula LeGuinn and J.K. Rowling wrote books with this idea. But only J.K. Rowling can write stories about a wizard named Harry Potter.
Copyright to an author is automatic upon creation; there is no need to register; registration provides a record of the work acceptable by court’s without more to establish the author’s rights, but no registration does not mean no rights.
Copyright is a property, and like any property, all or parts of it may be assigned by the author or other owner. The most common transfer is the right to publish or receive royalties for an original work. Such transfers can be permanent or temporary, and may include or not the use of the idea in other forms, such as a film adoption of a book.
Fair use is a limitation on copyright law recognised by the Berne convention. It means that a reader may use a small part of an author’s work in his or her own work, provided that proper attribution is made to the author. This is how a student or professor can quote another author’s work in a research paper without infringing the author’s rights. It is also how a student may photocopy parts of a book for his or her own personal use.
Fair use is NOT the reason why a library can loan a book. A physical book is covered by personal property laws. Once a person or organisation buys personal property, it may do with that property what ever it likes, including re-selling that property, with no further payments owed to the author. An ebook is not a piece of property, but a service, governed by the terms of the contract between the service provider and the service user.
Operation of Fair Use in a Library:
Fair use concerns occur in libraries with the question of copying a physical book. In most countries, libraries are not responsible for copyright violations simply because they have a copier located at the library, either one operated by library staff or licensed to a third party. Nor are librarians responsible for policing the users of copiers to make sure whole books are not being copied.
Fair use, however, is a right that can only exercised by individuals. As such, school libraries cannot produce multiple copies of a book or even a book chapter for a class. A library can reserve a book for class use; students may come and use the books to make copies for their own use. But library staff actually making multiple copies is the point where the organisation may infringe copyright.
Fair use does not prevent a library from limiting or prohibiting the copying of its material as an internal matter. Fair use concerns limits that an AUTHOR may place on copyrighted material. Libraries and other organisations may place stricter limits on how others may use its books or magazines because it is the owners of the physical book or licensees of an ebook.