Copyright and MLibrary Document Delivery

How does copyright affect my interlibrary loan or 7FAST request?

As part of an academic library, the University of Michigan Interlibrary Loan often has some rights under the U.S. Copyright Act (Sections 107 and 108) to make copies which support the University’s research, education, and other scholarly needs.  However, when you place an interlibrary loan or 7FAST request, some restrictions apply to our ability to copy an article or book chapter for you:

  • We cannot copy an entire book, journal issue or more than a “small portion” of either.
  • We cannot copy multiple articles from a single journal volume. Patrons should typically be able to receive one scanned chapter per book or one scanned article per journal issue, when using the 7FAST and ILL services.
  • We cannot store electronic copies on our server for more than a short period of time. You have 14 days or 5 views to access your pdf copy.  

Typically when a copy of an article or book chapter is made, the copyright holder of that work has the right to set a copyright fee that must be paid to them.  When adhering to these limits and providing copies to our University under the allowable uses, the Library is permitted to make copies of a “small portion” without contacting the copyright holder. 

What is a “small portion”? – Good question.  There is no magic formula that can determine the exact amount that equals a “small portion”.  We know this can be frustrating, and if you’d like to learn more, please go to

What if my request exceeds the Library’s limit to provide copies?

If you  request a larger portion of the source material than we can scan, in most cases we will provide the physical volume.    We assume that anyone who wants access to the text would prefer to get it in book format, rather than not getting it.   Please let us know if you are out of town so we can let you know what your options are. There are other options available to you if you are on campus:

  • Come view a book or journal in person at the library.
  • Request that the library purchase a book or journal.
  • Inquire about an eBook purchase of your requested material.
  • Speak with a representative from the UM Library Copyright Office to learn about your copyright abilities as an individual by emailing

What other resources are available?

UM Library Copyright Office guides:

Copyright Basics – see the tab for ‘Fair Use and other exceptions’:

Obtaining Copyright Permissions

The US Copyright Office provides information about copyright for the general public including the following circulars listed at

Circular 21, Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians
Circular FL 102 Fair Use
Circular M 10, How to Obtain Permission


Page maintained by Ralph Griffith Johnson
Last modified: 08/22/2014