By Andrew Hudson Published: August 13, 2012 Updated: August 22, 2013

By Andrew Hudson Published: August 13, 2012 Updated: August 22, 2013

I often hear from people who tried to get a photo copied at FedEx or WalMart or wherever, only to get refused. They can be annoyed and confused, but the photocopying company is trying to comply with copyright law.

In 1991, a landmark case “ Basic Books v. Kinko’s Graphics Corp., 758 F. Supp. 1522 (S.D.N.Y. 1991) ” made photocopying companies liable for copyright infringement, since they are copying for a profit. As a result, these companies now have policies to refuse to copy images that may have copyright protection. Sometimes, they do offer a release form, where you sign that the copyright belongs to you and you will hold them harmless from any legal action that might ensue.

“I confirm I have the right to print the image(s) and that it does not breach copyright. I agree to assume any liabilities that may occur if a claim is brought against [company] for printing the image(s).”

Read Basic Books v. Kinko’s, 1991.

Case name, yearFindings
Williams & Wilkins Co. v. United States, 1973Libraries can photocopy articles for patrons doing scientific research under fair use.
Marcus v. Rowley, 1983“… a finding that the alleged infringers copied the material to use it for the same intrinsic purpose for which the copyright owner intended it to be used is strong indicia of no fair use.” “a finding of a nonprofit educational purpose does not automatically compel a finding of fair use.” Copying for education fair use “a substantial copy of plaintiff’s booklet with no credit given to plaintiff. Under these circumstances, neither the fact that the defendant used the plaintiff’s booklet for nonprofit educational purposes nor the fact that plaintiff suffered no pecuniary damage as a result of Rowley’s copying supports a finding of fair use.”
Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko’s Graphics Corporation, 1991Copying articles for a profit, even when the end use is educational, is not fair use.
Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc., 1996Photocopying. Commercial copying is not fair use.

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