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Section 108(f)(3) of the Copyright Act appears to be a very unusual section that allows libraries to record television news programs. What is the reason for this provision?

When television news programs began, their value was not fully appreciated by the networks. In fact, for years CBS did not videotape

The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Vanderbilt University Library started the Television News Archive and recorded network news daily. A library could borrow a copy of a specific news tape from the Archive. At some point, CBS began to videotape Walter Cronkite and sued Vanderbilt University for infringing its reproduction and distribution rights. During the debates on the Copyright Act of 1976, Congress recognized that there was something unique about televised news, and it gave libraries the right to record it. According to House Report 94-1476, this exception was aimed at daily newscasts of the national news networks that report on the major events of the day. After passage of the Copyright Act, CBS dropped the suit against Vanderbilt, which still maintains the Television News Archive (see

May a library circulate software (e.g., Microsoft Office products), as long as they contain the copyright warning?

Yes, nonprofit libraries may do so. Section 109(b) of the Copyright Act permits nonprofit libraries to lend copies of software for nonprofit purposes. In order to do this, however, the library must include a copyright warning on the software package specified by the Register of Copyrights and published in the Code of Federal Regulations (see http: //law. html). If the library signs a license agreement to the contrary, however, the license agreement controls.

When shareware or freeware has been downloaded from the Internet, is it copyright infringement to "beam it" to a colleague's handheld device?

There is a difference between shareware and freeware that is pretty important in this instance. Freeware generally means that it is free of charge and free of restrictions on the use of the software. Therefore, duplicating it by copying it to someone's handheld device would not be infringement. There is a possibility, however, that there are restrictions included in some click-on license agreement that accompanied the software on the web. Further, the terms "freeware" and "software" are often used interchangeably, even though there is a difference.

Traditionally, shareware means that the software is protected by copyright but that the copyright owner makes it available for one to examine. Anyone who decides to use the software is then expected to pay for the copy. Sending a copy of this software to someone violates the copyright holder's reproduction right. The most important thing, however, is to pay attention to any online license when downloading the software.

The Copyright Act appears particularly outdated as it pertains to audiovisual works. Why does Congress not update it?

There are many reasons that Congress hesitates to amend the copyright law. Moreover, it is not just the provisions dealing with audiovisual works that sorely need to be modernized. First, technology changes so rapidly that lawmakers have difficulty deciding how to amend laws so that they do not impede technological developments. Second, there have been some changes in the law (pretty minor as applied to audiovisual works), but not since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Third, copyright owners and users of copyrighted works are pretty polarized right now, and any changes that one side wants likely will be fought by the other side. The spirit of legislative compromise seems to be dead on many frontsnot just copyright.

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