Libraries and documentation centres

The Copyright Act sets out certain obligations that are specific to public libraries and documentation centres open to the public.

To qualify as "public", the library or documentation centre must meet the following three criteria: 

  • it must be non-profit making
  • not be established or administered by a profit-making entity
  • allow the public and researchers access to its collection


What the Act says

Under the Copyright Act, a public library does not infringe copyright when a work is reproduced by means of a self-service photocopier installed on its premises if: 

  • the prescribed warning has been posted
  • an agreement has been reached with a collective society, such as Copibec

The Act's provision for self-service photocopiers also applies to scanners to which users of the public library or documentation centre have access.

Management and preservation of collections

When a work is fixed in a medium deemed obsolete or about to be obsolete, an exception in the Act allows public libraries to reproduce the work in another medium. However, this exception only applies if the work is not commercially available in a suitable medium and, if so, the library is unable to obtain a licence from a collective society such as Copibec. 


Reproduction of a periodical article

At the request of a user, a public library employee may make a reproduction of a periodical article. This reproduction must be on paper (reprography). The article must come from a scholarly, scientific or technical journal. If this is not the case, the article must have been published more than one year ago and it must not be fiction, poetry or a dramatic or musical work.

For any type of article, the reproduction must be used for research or private study only and the library staff must inform the applicant.


Interlibrary loan

An employee of a public library may give a digital copy of a work to a user requesting it from another library. The user may make a single printout of the work received. The public library must take steps to prevent the person receiving the copy from printing more than one copy, passing it on to another person and using it for more than five working days after the date of first use.