The Law: Copying v. Copyright

Well over 600,000 Xerox and other photocopying machines are currently humming and clicking off 30 billion copies per year in libraries and offices throughout the world. U.C.L.A. Law Professor Melville Nimmer has suggested that "the day may not be far off when no one need purchase books." But first, there is an unanswered legal question. Does this passion for duplicating violate the copyright laws?

The copyright statute itself has not been revised since 1909. Nor, surprisingly, had there ever been any court action on the question—until two months ago. Then, in a carefully reasoned opinion, an official of the U.S. Court of...

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