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Copyright: Interlibrary Loan

CONTU Guidelines and the "Rule of Five"

CONTU (National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works) guidelines apply only to materials less than five years old. Its provisions include:

  • A library ("user") may request up to five articles from a single periodical per year from issues published within the last five years. 
  • All ILL requests must include a copyright compliance statement from the requesting library. The onus is on the borrowing library to determine compliance. 
  • Libraries must keep records of all filled requests for three (3) calendar years after the request has been generated. 

Requests that exceed the "rule of five" may incur additional copyright fees. ILL staff will determine the price of additional article(s), and send the request to the Copyright Clearance Center for fulfillment. In some cases, the patron may be asked to cover additional costs to reproduce the material beyond a standard ILL request.

Guidelines for ILL Staff

  • Evaluate the quantity being requested for each request; it should not substitute for the purchase of the whole work.
  • Include copyright compliance statement with each request. 
  • Archive three (3) years' worth of records. 
  • Perform annual copyright audit to ensure resources are being used within guidelines.
  • Once CONTU limits are exceeded, get permission from the CCC to request additional content. 

Electronic Resources and ILL

Before sending out an article, staff must check that the publisher's license allows transmission and sharing via ILL. Many of our databases allow articles to be sent via this method to patrons at other libraries, provided that a copyright notice is attached. 

  • Electronic Delivery OK - Electronic delivery of articles, either via a document delivery service (e.g., Odyssey or Ariel) or posting the article for a limited amount of time on a remote server (OCLC ArticleExchange) is permitted. 
  • Print Only - The library may only send a print copy of the article via snail mail.
  • No ILL Permitted - The library may not transmit any material downloaded from the database to other libraries via Interlibrary Loan in any format.

Patrons are advised that while ILL staff try their best to obtain materials from libraries' electronic holdings, sometimes licensing agreements prohibit the owning libraries from sending the article. In the event that we cannot find a library authorized to lend, we will cancel the request and advise you of further options.