Unfortunately, there really isn't a yes/no scheme for fair use, as the exact
meaning is being continually redefined in the courts. I'm not sure if this
is the exact thing that you're looking for, but Georgia Harper, a lawyer for
the University of Texas system has put together the following site:

She's also a very friendly person, and would no doubt be happy to offer you
some clarification if you sent her an email. I also think she wrote an
article on copyright and audio collections for the Sound Savings conference
in 2003. Here's a link to the full proceedings. Her article is near the

Also, Mike Casey from the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana
University may have some more practical advice from his own experience with
out-of-print and unpublished audio material.

Good luck

Alice Johnston
2008/1/8, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>:
> Hi All:
> I'm hoping we have some library-policy experts here that can point me to
> some answers.
> Can a library -- not a big institution or university, just a local
> community library -- circulate
> single copies of out-of-print CD's and DVD's they have in their
> collections? I did a quick Google
> and couldn't find a definitive answer. I thought Stanford had a
> simple-to-understand "yes and no"
> guide to fair for libraries use but I couldn't find it this morning. If I
> recall that web page,
> which I read some time ago, it is fair use to take out of circulation and
> circulate a single copy of
> an item that is either non-replaceable or replaceable at great cost (ie
> out of print).
> Further, what about circulating single copies of ALL CD and DVD media
> given the proven fragile
> nature of the media? My local library head tells me that she gets DVD
> failure reports after 10 or
> fewer circulations in some cases, and most older CD's in the library
> system are badly scratched and
> sometimes gouged. Books on CD are bigger problems because some publishers
> do limited dupe runs onto
> CDR media and that wears out quickly from typical in-car handling.
> Audiobook publishers vary on
> replacement policies, the library lady told me. Some do it for the cost of
> postage if you send back
> the damaged disc. Some charge as much as $20 per disc. The librarian told
> me that local libraries
> are in a big bind with all of this because printed books are just not
> their bread and butter
> anymore. DVD's are a huge circulation item, as are kids' computer software
> and games. Music CD's are
> a somewhat popular circulation item. But the big one is audiobooks, she
> said.
> When I was a kid, if I went to the local library and wanted to borrow a
> kiddie-sound thing that was
> on a cassette, the library would run off a copy and circulate the copy
> with me. When I brought the
> tape back, they'd put it in a pile to be re-copied with something else and
> re-circulated. The
> librarian explained to me that the albums were expensive to replace and
> kids had a habit of mangling
> cassette tapes. I'm not sure how strict they were about only having one
> copy in circulation but I
> think that requirement may have been tightened up with a law made after I
> was a kid. I grew up in a
> town that had plenty of lawyers living in it, so I doubt this procedure
> was patently illegal back
> then.
> Has the ARSC published any articles previously that bring some clarity to
> all of this fair-use
> thing? I think it would be a very helpful resource, one version for local
> libraries and small
> circulating collections, one version for big institutions like university
> libraries and one version
> of individual collectors (ie do we pose any risk of arrest if we choose to
> back up our personal
> collections to hard drive? -- there seem to be many different opinions on
> this, from the
> ultra-paranoid to the "what me worry".
> -- Tom Fine