Copyright issues faced by libraries in the time of corona: An insight into the position under Malaysian Copyright Law

Main Article Content

Sik Cheng Peng


The COVID-19 outbreak has brought substantial disruption to life and many sectors at one stroke. The pandemic has forced the closure of many schools and universities across the world. With teaching and learning activities being shifted to an entirely online environment, libraries too, undergo dramatic changes in the way they deliver and supply materials. Libraries may meet the need and request for resources when people stay or work at home by either scanning the physical books in their collections, or to make available e-Books to a greater number of users. Nonetheless, the said two acts may trigger copyright issues. This research aims to explore the copyright challenges encountered by libraries when engaged in the said activities and seeks to suggest the possible approaches to be pursued by libraries in doing so. This research employs the doctrinal research methodology, the typical methodology for legal research. With the findings of this research, it is hoped that this paper may clear the air on the copyright concerns faced by libraries during the pandemic. In addition, the paper also strives to offer guidance to the libraries in Malaysia as to how they may perform their role during a virus outbreak without infringing copyright.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
CHENG PENG, Sik. Copyright issues faced by libraries in the time of corona: An insight into the position under Malaysian Copyright Law. Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science, [S.l.], v. 25, n. 3, p. 1-13, dec. 2020. ISSN 1394-6234. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 17 jan. 2021.


Aaltonen, M., Mannonen, P., Nieminen, S. and Nieminen, M. 2011. Usability and compatibility of e-book readers in an academic environment: A collaborative study. IFLA Journal, Vol. 37, no. 1: 16-27. Available at: 0340035210396775.

Authors Guild, Inc v Google, Inc. 2015. 13-4829-cv (United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit).

Bailey, L., Courtney, K. K., Hansen, D., Minow, M., Schultz, J. and Wu, M. 2018. Controlled digital lending by libraries. Available at

Bartow, A. 2003. Electrifying copyright norms and making cyberspace more like a book. Villanova Law Review, Vol. 48, no. 1: 13. Available at:

Bartow, A. 2001. Libraries in a digital and aggressively copyrighted world: Retaining patron access through changing technologies. Ohio State Law Journal Vol. 62, no. 2: 821.

Calaba, V. F. 2002. Quibbles 'N Bits: Making a digital first sale feasible. Michigan Telecommunication & Technology Law Review, Vol. 9: 1.

Capitol Records, LLC v ReDigi Inc. 2018. 16-2321 (United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit).

Cichocki, K. M. 2007. Unlocking the future of public libraries: Digital licensing that preserves access. University of Baltimore Intellectual Property Law Journal, Vol 16: 29.

CIDRAP. 2020. COVID-19: The CIDRAP viewpoint. Available at

Civic Agenda. 2012. Matrix: Models of accessing digital content. Libraries, e-lending and the future of public access to digital content. Available at assets/hq/topics/e-lending/thinkpiece-matrix.pdf.

Civic Agenda. 2012. The thinkpiece "Libraries, eLending, and the future of public access to digital content. IFLA. Available at

Copyright (Public Libraries and Educational, Scientific or Professional Institutions) Order 1987.

Crews, K. D. 2017. Study on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives. WIPO. Available at

Crews, K. D. 2001. The law of fair use and the illusion of fair use guidelines. Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 62: 599.

Farrar, J. H. 2010. Legal Reasoning. Thomson Reuters (Prous Science).

Gasaway, L. N. 2010. Libraries and copyright at the dawn of the twentieth century: The 1909 Copyright Act. North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 11: 419.

Gasaway, L. N. 2000. Values conflict in the digital environment: Librarians versus copyright holders. Columbia-VLA Journal of Law & the Arts, Vol. 24: 115.

Hachette Book Group, Inc v Internet Archive. 2020. 1:20-cv-04160 (District Court, SD New York).

Hutchinson, T. and Duncan, N. 2012. Defining and describing what we do: Doctrinal legal research. Deakin Law Review, Vol. 17: 83.

IFLA. 2014. IFLA 2014 eLending background paper. Available at publications/node/8852?og=7351.

Kelly v Arriba Soft Corp. 2003. 336 F 3d 811 (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit).

Khaw, L. T. 2004. Copyright law in Malaysia: Does the balance hold? Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law, Vol. 31: 23-44.

Klinefelter, A. 2001. Copyright and electronic library resources: An overview of how the law is affecting traditional library services. Legal Reference Services Quarterly Vol. 19, no. 3-4: 175-193.

Longman Malaysia Sdn Bhd v Pustaka Delta Pelajaran Sdn Bhd . 1987. [1987] 2 MLJ 359 (High Court of Malaya).

Nederlands Uitgeversverbond/Groep Algemene Uitgevers v Tom Kabinet. 2019. C-263/18 (Court of Justice of the European Union (Grand Chamber)).

Nicholas D., Rowlands I. and Jamali H.R. 2010. E-textbook use, information seeking behaviour and its impact: case study business and management. Journal of Information Science Vol. 36, no. 2: 263-280.

Roncevic, M. 2013. E-book platforms for libraries. American Library Association, Vol. 49, no. 3: 5-43.

Sik, C. P. 2020. Digital Copyrgiht Law of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Sweet & Maxwell.
Soft GmbH v Oracle International Corp. 2012. C-128/11 (Court of Justice of the European Union (Grand Chamber)).

Travis, H. 2006. Building universal digital libraries: An agenda for copyright reform. Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 33: 761.

UNESCO. 2020. 1.3 billion learners are still affected by school or university closures, as educational institutions start reopening around the world, says UNESCO. Available at

United Nations. 1948. Universal declaration of human rights. United Nations. Available at

Van Hoecke, M., ed. 2011. Methodologies of Legal research which kind of method for what kind of discipline? Bloomsbury Publishing.

Vernor v Autodesk, Inc. 2010. 621 F 3d 1102 (US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit).

Ward, S. M., Freeman, R. S. and Nixon, J. M. 2015. Academic e-books: publishers, libraries, and users. Purdue University Press.

WIPO. 1979. Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works. Available at

WIPO. 1978. Guide to the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works (Paris Act 1971). Available at en/copyright/615/wipo_pub_615.pdf.

WIPO. 1996. WIPO copyright treaty. Available at
WIPO. 1996. WIPO performances and phonograms treaty. Available at

Xu, A. and Moreno, M. 2014. Journey of discovery: challenges of e-book lending in a digital world. Interlending & Document Supply, Vol 42, no. 2/3: 51-56.

Zhu, X. and Shen, L. 2014. A survey of e-book interlibrary loan policy in US academic libraries. Interlending & Document Supply, Vol 42, no. 2/3: 57-63.