Libraries do not create Copyright Law nor do we have the ability to change it. Copyright law is complicated.
Please use the tools and information we have provided to make your own decisions. Feel free to contact the faculty librarians if you have any questions. We may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; library chat on the Merced College Library Homepage. Or you may reach out directly to individual librarians.
BYU (Brigham Young University) has explained this best. Please read what they have written to better understand why you or your students may be frustrated by what may appear to be arbitrary decisions.
Here are some excerpts from the BYU Libraries and Copyright
Section 108 does not permit the making of unlimited copies of a copyrighted work. Instead, with limited exceptions, only “the isolated and unrelated reproduction or distribution of a single copy of the same material on separate occasions” is permitted. Copying by a library or archive is not permitted when the library or archive (1) is “aware” of “related or concerted reproduction or distribution of multiple copies of the same material” or (2) “engages in the systematic reproduction or distribution of single or multiple copies” or of articles or small excerpts of a copyrighted work.
The quantity limitations described in Section 108 (a) of “no more than one copy of a work” are different for the purpose of preservation of unpublished works and for replacement of unobtainable published works. For those purposes, a library or archive is permitted to make a maximum of three copies of a copyrighted work, subject to the other conditions set forth in sections 108(b) and (c).
Reproduction of Entire Copyrighted Works at Request of Users
Another situation frequently faced by patrons is the need for books or other publications that are no longer in print or for manuscripts, letters, and other archival materials that are maintained only in libraries or otherwise are not publicly available. Under section 108(e), a library or archive may copy entire works in response to a user request if it has no notice of non-scholarly use and displays a copyright warning. The library or archive also must have “first determined, on the basis of a reasonable investigation, that a copy of the copyrighted work cannot be obtained at a fair price.”
The Copyright Law for Libraries and Archives
Copyright Law of the United States
Library Copyright Resources