Background: § 108 within the Copyright Act

Statutory text

Title 17 of the U.S. Code is the copyright law of the United States. Title 17 has been enacted into positive law, so it, rather than the Statutes at Large, is the governing law. People often refer to Title 17 as the Copyright Act. Although there have been some amendments, Title 17 closely resembles the most recent Copyright Act, that of 1976. This pathfinder focuses on 17 U.S.C 108, which is sometimes called section 108 of the Copyright Act.

Accessing the full text of 17 U.S.C. § 108

From the Government Printing Office:

  • The full text of the U.S. Code is available for free through the Government Printing Office’s website, FDsys. At that site, click on “United States Code” in the right-hand menu titled “Browse.” On the next page, choose the most recent year from drop-down menu and then scroll down to Title 17, Copyrights. Click on Title 17 to expand it and then on Chapter 1 to expand that. “Sec. 108 – Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives” should be visible. Click “PDF” for a PDF, “text” for a text file, or “more” to access and download metadata concerning § 108.

From the Copyright Office:

  • The full text of Title 17 is available for free download in PDF format at the website of the Copyright Office. Users can also download individual chapters. Chapter 1 is the relevant chapter for section 108 (PDF HTML). The PDFs on this site are sections of a publication entitled Copyright Law of the United States of America, which is also known as Circular 92 (PDF). Printed copies of Circular 92 are available for purchase from the Government Printing Office.


Background information

If you are unfamiliar with Section 108, it may be helpful to do some background reading before you begin your research. The two leading copyright treatises, Nimmer and Patry, both cover Section 108. Columbia University’s Copyright Advisory Office hosts very useful and interactive website with information about Section 108.


Melville B. Nimmer and David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright.

  • Nimmer on Copyright is a multivolume looseleaf treatise originally authored by lawyer and law professor Melville B. Nimmer and updated now by his son, David Nimmer. David Nimmer is a professor at UCLA’s law school and of counsel to Irell & Manella. Nimmer is published by Matthew Bender and is available on Lexis.
  • Useful sections: 2-8 Nimmer on Copyright §§ 8.03, 8.13
  • LawCat record
  • Lexis full text (subscription required)

William F. Patry, Patry on Copyright.

  • Patry on Copyright is a multivolume looseleaf treatise authored by William F. Patry, senior copyright counsel at Google. It is published by Thomson/West and available on Westlaw.
  • Useful sections: §§ 1:92, 3:60 8:6, 10:107, 10:122, 10:140, 10:158, 11:2-7, 11:8.50, 13:14, and 23:26
  • LawCat record
  • Westlaw full text (subscription required)

Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office website:

Next: History: Libraries under previous copyright regimes

Previous: Introduction

Table of Contents

Originally written in December 2011. Revisions in progress as of February 2016.


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