Copyright & video viewing facilities in public libraries

Pat Shufeldt (
Wed, 3 Jul 2002 05:31:46 -0700 (PDT)

What facilities do other public libraries provide for patrons to viewing
videos, and how do you handle copyright issues? I've seen it suggested
that as long as a single person or a small family group is involved, and
the viewing does not take place in a public area, using equipment on the
public library premises would not be considered a "public performance."
Most of the information I find in literature/Internet searches, however,
relates to school/academic libraries rather than public libraries.

I would especially like to address #1 and #3 below:
(1)We have a few commercial videos in our non-circulating Local History
collection--with no current provision for anyone except staff to view
them. This was one of those situations of "buy it while it's still
available, and we'll work out the viewing logistics later."
(2) There are occasional requests from patrons who do not own the kind
of playback equipment required. The most recent request I received was
from a mother who wished to view a VHS with her child.
(3) Due to our collaboration with the local Small Business Development
Center and SCORE, we've added their SBA-supplied book collection to our
Reference Collection so that it is more readily available to the
public. I am interested in having their business film collection
(commercial films, not government-sponsored films) available as part of
the public library's reference collection as well. Since that would
necessitate having on-site viewing facilities, I want to explore the
copyright issues before discussing it with them further with SBDC/SCORE
staff. Unfortunately, the cost of these films makes it prohibitively
expensive for us to purchase copies for our circulating collection.

Pat Shufeldt
Greenville (SC) County Library System
(864) 242-5000, Ext. 2219