Glossary created by Berkman Center team

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Economic Rights

The rights associated with copyright that allow the rights holder to exercise control over use of the work for economic benefit.

Economic rights include, among others, the right to make and sell copies, to perform the work publicly, and to prepare derivative works.


A nonprofit organization that advocates for access to library resources across the world.

According to eIFL's website:

“ is a not for profit organisation that supports and advocates for the wide availability of electronic resources by library users in transitional and developing countries.

"eIFL’s core activities are negotiating affordable subscriptions on a multi-country consortial basis, supporting national library consortia and maintaining a global knowledge sharing and capacity building network in related areas, such as open access publishing, intellectual property rights, open source software for libraries and the creation of institutional repositories of local content.

The vision is to provide leadership and be a strong international advocate for expanded availability of electronic resources and to enhance the skills base of library consortia, so that they are at the leading edge of developments.’s mission is to: (1) assist in the building of strong national consortia; (2) be the premier multi-country negotiator for securing affordable commercial electronic information services; (3) provide strong advocacy and support for the development and accessibility of local digital resources; (4) provide an effective central advisory and capacity building program in open access publishing, copyright and free and open source software for libraries (5) leverage multi-national expertise and resources to fulfill this mission; (6) provide top quality educational and consulting services; (7) be an advocate for the adoption and advancement of effective information distribution models; and (8) develop model partnerships with global funding agencies, foundations, consortial groups, and content providers.”

Exceptions and Limitations

The exceptions and limitations to the otherwise exclusive rights of a copyright holder.

While copyright is usually conceptualized as the granting of a monopoly for a limited period of time, there are nearly always exceptions and limitations to the otherwise exclusive rights of a copyright holder. These can be statutory or customary, and represent uses for which a user need not get permission, or for which fees are preset, or something else that places limits on the monopoly of the copyright holder. These exceptions and limitations are often driven by public policy concerns.

“Fair use” in U.S. law and “fair dealing” in some other parts of the world, are classic examples of doctrines that place a limitation on the copyright holder’s monopoly. Any form of compulsory licensing would be another. Some exceptions are directed at particular classes of user, such as the exceptions pertaining to making copies for the disabled.


Rule-based exceptions are those whose qualities are described in specific detail, so that a particular use either does or does not qualify as an exception.

The Chaffee Amendment in U.S. Copyright law that exempts the making of copies for the disabled is an example of a rule-based exception.


A guideline-based exception or limitation is one that sets forth one or more factors to consider when determining whether a particular use is fair, rather than hard and fast bright-line rules.

Any particular use must be evaluated on an individual basis to determine if it qualifies for the exception. For example, the “fair use” doctrine in U.S. law, which lists four non-exhaustive factors and partial list of suggested fair uses, is a guideline-based exception.

Library exceptions

Libraries are often treated as a special sub-class of users of copyrighted material because of the public nature of their mission and the strong public policy arguments in their favor. As such, they enjoy a unique set of exceptions and limits on copyright law in many countries. While the copyright law concerning libraries varies from country to country, there are some near-universal general exceptions for libraries.


Libraries are frequently permitted to make copies of works in order to preserve them, or for archival purposes, without violating the copyright in those works.

This is in line with the traditional role of libraries as repositories of knowledge.


Under certain circumstances, libraries are permitted to make copies of copyrighted works for the purpose of loaning them to patrons or to other libraries without violating the copyright in those works.


Libraries are often permitted to make copies of copyrighted works for research purposes (whether their own or that of their patrons) without violating the copyright in those works.

Other resources: