September 10, 2019
The Public Display of Digital Library Collections
This Article evaluates the scope of the public display right in the context of digital library collections, and suggests an interpretation of the right that tries to make sense of the practical concerns that its drafters expressed when creating it. In short, the Article focuses on the sometimes-forgotten but important fact that the unauthorized display of copyrighted works is only an infringement of the copyright owner’s exclusive right if the work is displayed to “the public.” The Copyright Act nowhere defines the term “the public,” but viewed in light of its legislative history and interpretive guidance from the courts, this Article argues that the “public” part of “public display” can be read as meaning “the public market for copies” of the work. When a display does not impact the traditional public market for copies of the work—i.e., when one exploits copies at a level of use consistent with traditional uses like library lending, for example—there is no public display and therefore no infringement of the public display right.
David R. Hansen, The Public Display of Digital Library Collections, 14 N.C. J.L. & Tech. 145 (2012), available at http://ncjolt.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/12_Hansen_Final.pdf.
The North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology has adopted the Open Access Program, a part of the Scholar’s Copyright Project created by Science Commons. Authors designate the conditions under which their articles are licensed. By downloading articles, you agree to comply with the license terms specified. Please contact NC JOLT at email@example.com with permissions inquiries.