Digital libraries are hampered by copyright law because, unlike with traditional printed works, the laws of digital copyright are still being formed. The republication of material on the web by libraries may require permission from rights holders, and there is a conflict of interest between libraries and the publishers who may wish to create online versions of their acquired content for commercial purposes. In 2010, it was estimated that twenty-three percent of books in existence were created before 1923 and thus out of copyright. Of those printed after this date, only five percent were still in print as of 2010. Thus, approximately seventy-two percent of books were not available to the public.

There is a dilution of responsibility that occurs as a result of the distributed nature of digital resources. Complex intellectual property matters may become involved since digital material is not always owned by a library. The content is, in many cases, public domain or self-generated content only. Some digital libraries, such as Project Gutenberg, work to digitize out-of-copyright works and make them freely available to the public. An estimate of the number of distinct books still existent in library catalogues from 2000 BC to 1960, has been made.

The Fair Use Provisions (17 USC § 107) under the Copyright Act of 1976 provide specific guidelines under which circumstances libraries are allowed to copy digital resources. Four factors that constitute fair use are "Purpose of the use, Nature of the work, Amount or substantiality used and Market impact."

Some digital libraries acquire a license to lend their resources. This may involve the restriction of lending out only one copy at a time for each license, and applying a system of digital rights management for this purpose.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 was an act created in the United States to attempt to deal with the introduction of digital works. This Act incorporates two treaties from the year 1996. It criminalizes the attempt to circumvent measures which limit access to copyrighted materials. It also criminalizes the act of attempting to circumvent access control. This act provides an exemption for nonprofit libraries and archives which allows up to three copies to be made, one of which may be digital. This may not be made public or distributed on the web, however. Further, it allows libraries and archives to copy a work if its format becomes obsolete.

Copyright issues persist: As such, proposals have been put forward suggesting that digital libraries be exempt from copyright law. Although this would be very beneficial to the public, it may have a negative economic effect and authors may be less inclined to create new works.

Another issue that complicates matters is the desire of some publishing houses to restrict the use of digit materials such as e-books purchased by libraries. Whereas with printed books, the library owns the book until it can no longer be circulated, publishers want to limit the number of times an e-book can be checked out before the library would need to repurchase that book. "[HarperCollins] began licensing use of each e-book copy for a maximum of 26 loans. This affects only the most popular titles and has no practical effect on others. After the limit is reached, the library can repurchase access rights at a lower cost than the original price."  While from a publishing perspective, this sounds like a good balance of library lending and protecting themselves from a feared decrease in book sales, libraries are not set up to monitor their collections as such. They acknowledge the increased demand of digital materials available to patrons and the desire of a digital library to become expanded to include best sellers, but publisher licensing may hinder the process.

Digital preservation

Digital preservation aims to ensure that digital media and information systems are still interpretable into the indefinite future. Each necessary component of this must be migrated, preserved or emulated. Typically lower levels of systems (floppy disks for example) are emulated, bit-streams (the actual files stored in the disks) are preserved and operating systems are emulated as a virtual machine. Only where the meaning and content of digital media and information systems are well understood is migration possible, as is the case for office documents. 

About Copyright and the Collections

Content found on the DOI web site is contributed by DOI partners. Copyright questions about partner content should be directed to that partner. When publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in a DOI partner's collections, the user has the obligation to determine and satisfy domestic and international copyright law or other use restrictions.

More information about copyright law in World Intellectual Property Organization member states can be found at http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/.

The Digital Online Identifier Library (DOI) has list of journals and its contents, libraries, books that are both in and out of copyright. It is explicit policy of the Digital Online Idendifier (DOI) to adhere to the copyright policies of all countries in the strictest possible interpretation. In case there has been an unintentional violation of the policies of any country, we will immediately try to rectify the situation. We request all such notifications of the copyright violations to be sent by clicking on the copyright violation hyperlink on the book metadata displayed while searching.

We are using the following conservative guiding principles for displaying content.

1. For those books that are either out of copyright or permission to scan has been granted, we display the entire contents of the book free to read.

2. For books under copyright, we only display the title page and other selected pages not exceeding 10% of the pages, under the fair use policy.

    a. The book is in public domain (e.g. government publications and other approved not-for-profit societies)
    b. Explicit permission has been received from the author or publisher or
    c. There is authenticated information to indicate that this book should not be in copyright.

This Copyright Policy is a part of the Doi-ds Authorized User Agreement (the User Agreement), and you accepted this policy when you registered for access to Doi website (the Site) and agreed to the terms and conditions of the User Agreement. Doi may amend this policy from time to time by posting a revised version on the Site, and without giving you notice, so please check this policy each time you visit the Site and note the date of publication.

Doi-ds mission of facilitating scientific communication between members of the professional scientific community must be pursued in strict compliance with copyright law. A copyright gives the creator of an original work of authorship ownership and control of intellectual property in such work. Generally, a copyright is enforceable once an idea has been reduced to tangible form in a fixed medium. A copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the form or manner in which these things are expressed.

Doi-ds users must therefore secure appropriate permission when including copyrighted material, such as text, photographic images, video, sound or graphic illustration, in any of their postings on the Site. Fair Use provisions of copyright law, however, do allow the use of copyrighted material without authorization from the copyright owner for the limited purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research.

Infringing material discovered on the Site will be removed or access to it disabled, the user who posted the infringing material will be notified of the action taken, and such user's Site privileges may be terminated.

Protective Rights: The www.doi-ds.org website (the “Website”) and all content contained therein including all images, graphics, information, data, texts, video, audio or other content either shown on the Website, or downloadable from the Website belongs to Doi-ds and can only be used with Doi’s permission.  Contents on the Website are protected by copyright, trademark and International Laws.  Some of the icons, domain names, logos, service marks, trademarks and trade names within the Website are owned by Doi or other owners and used with permission given to Doi.  You are not granted any right, or license, to use such logos, service marks, trademarks and trade names or any other content on the Website without the express written permission of Doi or any third party owner.  You agree not to modify the content of this Website in any way, reproduce it, display it in any public or private setting or for commercial purposes, modify any copyright, trademark, service mark or other proprietary notices contained within the Website.  You agree to be bound by the terms and conditions set forth on the Website as an express condition to your use.

In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, it is notified that suspect content (which may constitute copyright infringement or may be otherwise unlawful) has been posted on the Site, please contact doi-ds copyright agent by email at info@doi-ds.org or please send to the attention of the copyright agent and provide the following information:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address;
  •  A description of the suspect content you claim either infringes upon your copyright or is otherwise unlawful. This description should identify the specific portions of the suspect content therwise unlawful;
  • A description of the exact location of the suspect content on the Site.
  • If you believe that the suspect content infringes upon your copyright, state in detail the copyright you are asserting and why the suspect content infringes upon it.
  • If you believe that the suspect content is otherwise unlawful, state in detail which laws are being breached and why the suspect content breaches such laws.
  • A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that you believe in good faith that you have been damaged by the suspect content (or that you are authorized to act on behalf of such a person), and that the information you provided is true and accurate; and
  • Your electronic or physical signature.

You may wish to seek independent legal advice before filing a notice or responding to a notice filed by someone else.

Digital Online Identifier-Database System

  • Address: Address (Office): DOI, Rajatpath, Mansarovar, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India - 302020 Address (Extn.): DOI, Sukanta Nagar, Near Community Hall, Sripalli, Burdwan, W.B., India - 713103
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