AALL’s Model Law Firm Copyright Policy

Approved October 1996
Revised January 2001, July 2007, and August 2007
Approved by the Executive Board April 8, 2016 Tab 14


[AALL’s Model Law Firm Copyright Policy is merely a model of a copyright policy and will require revision to fit the specific needs of your law firm. Your firm’s General Counsel should review the policy before it is adopted. The Model Policy should be read in conjunction with the Model Law Firm Copyright Guidance Document. The Guidance Document provides clarification and insight into copyright law, and more nuanced aspects of the policy. The Guidance Document should also be revised to meet the needs of your law firm. Should your firm adopt a Copyright Policy, it will require revision as laws change.]

While compliance with the copyright laws and respect for intellectual property rights rests upon the individual, we have adopted this policy for all partners, employees, and independent contractors in furtherance of the [FIRM NAME’s] goals of fostering respect for intellectual property rights.

[FIRM NAME] respects valid intellectual property rights and is committed to good faith efforts to comply with copyright law and entering reasonable licenses wherever feasible and consistent with both the rights owner’s and the Firm’s interests.

[FIRM NAME] personnel should be aware that absent an agreement between [FIRM NAME] and the copyright owner, making a complete print or electronic copy of a journal or newsletter or substantial parts of individual articles may violate copyright law. Similarly, absent authorization, copying, downloading, scanning, and emailing all or substantial parts of a copyrighted work to a client, business development prospect, or for inclusion in an in-house C.L.E. program may be an infringement of copyright law.

[FIRM NAME] does not condone the unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted material, in any format including images, pictures, music, software, books, articles, and blogs. Firm partners, employees, and independent contractors may not make unauthorized reproduction of any copyrighted work in print, video or electronic form in violation of the law.

Library Lending, Borrowing, and Document Delivery

The Firm has designated the [LIBRARIAN] as the copyright officer to administer the firm’s copyright policy. The [LIBRARIAN] can help employees determine whether a work is covered by our firm licenses, and how to handle any special copyright issues. Questions concerning copyright procedures, including fair use, should be addressed in the first instance to the [LIBRARIAN] Should it be necessary to obtain permission to reproduce copyrighted works not covered by an existing license or other prior agreements, the [LIBRARIAN] will contact the rights and licensing department of the copyright holder and make the necessary arrangements, if available on terms satisfactory to the firm. Those requesting permission to copy a work should be aware that permission can take up to several weeks to be granted. Any reprints used for attorney advertising or business development, and any images or documents posted on the Firm’s website will be handled by the [MARKETING DEPARTMENT]. The librarian or marketing department will consult with the general counsel and, as needed, experienced intellectual property lawyers at the Firm with respect to questions or matters not addressed by this policy.

The Library may borrow or lend only lawfully obtained original copies of copyrighted materials, or the original copyrighted work. When using an outside service or document delivery company to procure copies, that service or company must obtain the appropriate permission or pay royalties to the copyright owner.

In response to requests from other libraries, the Library may make one copy of an article so long as the requester attests, and the library reasonably believes, that the request complies with the Copyright Act or the CONTU guidelines. The Firm’s Library follows the same guidelines in requesting materials from other libraries.

Fair Use and the Library Exemption

The fair use doctrine outlined in Section 107 of the Copyright Act may permit the use and reproduction of a copyrighted work. If Firm personnel seek to perform a fair use analysis, please consult the four factor test outlined in the Guidance Document. While the inquiry is fact- specific, it should be generally assumed that most copying at a law firm will not qualify as fair use.

The Library may be able to make copies without permission under exemptions reserved for libraries and archives under Section 108 of the Copyright Act. Section 108 exemptions permit photocopies or reproductions of copyrighted works “used [solely for] private study, scholarship or research.” Where copy request orders are taken, the [LIBRARY and DUPLICATING DEPARTMENT] must prominently display a copyright warning meeting requirements set by the Register of Copyrights, including on web-based and paper forms. Under Section 108(a), a Library that is open for use by non-firm employees may make one copy of an article in response to a specific request from partner, employee or independent contractor so long as there is no direct or indirect commercial advantage from the copying and the copy contains a notice of copyright or statement that the work may be protected by copyright. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes beyond what is permissible under Section 108, then that person may be liable for copyright infringement.

Special Copyright Issues

Special consideration must be taken for certain categories of uses or works, such as when copying for judicial proceedings, copying federal and state documents, and copying material subject to a foreign copyright. Please consult the guidance document and/or the [LIBRARIAN] to determine how the copyrighted work can be used.

Copyright Notices and Signage

[FIRM NAME] will post signage in all copy rooms [alongside all printer/scanner/copier devices, in the Library, and in the [Duplicating Department] as a reminder that duplicating, scanning, or copying is governed by copyright law, as well as placing notices or disclaimers on request forms, copies, and emails where appropriate. All personnel are expected to heed these notices and make appropriate inquiries of the firm librarian or general counsel when concerns arise.

Routing and Reproduction

The Library may route originals and/or copies of tables of contents of publications. When the length of the routing list becomes excessive, the Firm will consider purchasing additional copies of a copyrighted work. Because of the typically short length of newsletters, the library or reproduction center, as a general rule, may reproduce only small excerpts of copyrighted newsletters. Multiple copies should not be made of articles, or cover-to-cover copies of newsletters, periodical issues, or volumes. This practice should be observed for both print library materials and materials obtained from online services. All personnel are cautioned against systematically copying routed journals to reproduce the articles for later (rather than current) use and to create personal libraries.

Obtaining Permission to Reproduce a Copyrighted Work

If the reproduction of a copyrighted work does not fall under fair use or an existing firm license, then permission must be obtained from the copyright holder. Employees may request a firm librarian obtain permissions for the copyrighted work. In many cases, fees will apply.

Copying as Permitted by License

For many copyrighted works [FIRM NAME] has licenses that generally enable firm personnel to make print and digital copies, to post content on the firm’s intranet, and to share content within the firm. In some instances, select licenses provide the right to send items to clients and individuals outside the firm. Not all licenses permit these uses, thus it is the obligation of each individual to consult the librarian for guidance and to understand whether he or she has permission to copy and share copyrighted content. If you encounter copyrighted materials not covered by a firm license, please contact a firm librarian to determine if reproduction may be permitted under any of the firm’s existing licenses [or the firm’s license with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC)].

Copyright Clearance Center

[Optional language for firms with an Annual CCC license that includes print and digital rights.]

A CCC License enables employees in the United States to reproduce and distribute specific content, in print or electronic format. Under our license, [LAW FIRM] employees may copy excerpts from newspapers, magazines, journals, and other copyright-protected works that are licensed by the CCC. Please note that the CCC does not represent the entire universe of copyrighted works. Many publishers are not covered by the CCC license and it is up to the individual to determine if the item is licensed by the CCC. A search tool to check the CCC’s database of registered works is available at http://www.copyright.com. If the work is covered by the CCC’s license, employees may email articles of interest, post articles on the intranet, and scan content when a digital original is not available. The copyright permission rights provided by [FIRM NAME]’s CCC license are for internally uses only and may not extend to clients and others outside the Firm. Most copyright licenses including the CCC cover domestic use only.

Computer Software Programs

According to Section 117 of the Copyright Act, the firm may make one archival copy of software it has purchased, and may also adapt purchased software so that it can be used on firm equipment. Firm personnel should not load any unauthorized copy of any computer program, or portion thereof, onto any computer, file server, or other magnetic or electronic media storage device belonging to the [firm.] Software licenses will be obtained by the systems department with appropriate site or multiple-user licenses. The terms of these license agreements should be strictly followed when using authorized copies of software programs. While the purchase and licensing of computer software is generally the responsibility of the [IS Department], some software is distributed by the library from publishers of legal content. In any case, all software should be lawfully obtained, for the agreed upon number of users, and loaded with the assistance of the Firm’s [Help Desk.]