Copyright Office Releases Section 108 Discussion Document
Issue No. 681 - September 15, 2017

The U.S. Copyright Office today released its Section 108 Discussion Document. Congress enacted section 108 of Title 17 in 1976, authorizing libraries and archives to reproduce and distribute, without permission, certain copyrighted works on a limited basis for the purposes of preservation, replacement, and research. However, the exceptions outlined in section 108 did not anticipate and no longer address the ways in which copyrighted works are created, distributed, preserved, and accessed in the twenty-first century.

The Discussion Document emphasizes the Copyright Office’s longstanding position that section 108 needs to be updated so that libraries, archives, and museums have a robust, comprehensible, and balanced safe harbor to fulfill their missions. The primary objective of the Discussion Document is to provide a concrete framework for further discussion among stakeholders and members of Congress. In an effort to provide this framework, the Discussion Document includes model statutory language to guide future discussions and to assist in generating consensus on various discrete issues, such as adding museums to the statute; allowing preservation copies to be made of all works in an eligible entity’s collections; replacing the current three-copy limit with a “reasonably necessary” standard when making copies for preservation and research; clarifying the contract supremacy provision to grant libraries, archives, and museums more flexibility to make preservation and security copies of works covered by licensing and purchasing agreements; and eliminating the exclusion of musical, pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, and motion pictures or other audiovisual works from the provisions permitting copies made upon the request of users, under certain conditions.

The full Discussion Document, along with background material, is available on the Copyright Office’s website at