At several departments at the EUR it has become a trend among students to copy study books instead of buying them in order to safe money. EM investigates if copying is indeed cheaper than buying and if it as easy as it sounds.

While investigating the trend of copying study books, it becomes clear that it is a trend among students from several departments at the EUR. However, the students that EM talked to wish to remain anonymous since being associated with copying books may reflect badly on them. Nonetheless, in general students answer to the question why they do it “because it is a lot cheaper and it is really easy to do.” Therefore, EM checked if this is indeed the case.

Getting the book

In order to copy a study book you need to gain access to it. In general, required literature for particular courses is available in the University Library (UB). Indeed, several books which are on the mandatory list for different bachelor and master programs at the EUR can easily be reserved at the UB. EM reserved a book which costs 40 Euros in the Study Store. Only half an hour after the reservation, the book is picked up.

Infringement of Dutch copyright law

The book is obtained, so far so good. It is only a short walk to the V-building and the Copy Shop. Although Dutch copyright law is rather vague when it comes to copying entire books (of which you do not own the copyright). The general rule  is that material with copyright, like study books, may only be multiplied entirely if the person owns the rights to the book or the author gave permission. Making copies of an entire study book is thus, an infringement of Dutch copyright law.

Copying for own purpose

Indeed, Dutch copyright law states in Article 16 B  that “It shall not be deemed an infringement of the copyright in a literary, scientific or artistic work to reproduce it in a limited number of copies for the sole purpose of private practice, study or use of the person who makes the copies or orders the copies to be made exclusively for himself.”

So, while it is not allowed to copy an entire work without owning the rights of permission of the copyright owner, it is allowed to copy a few pages of a study book for your own private use. However, what exactly is meant with a limited number of copies is not specified anywhere. EM asked the Copyright Information desk of the EUR for further clarifications.

The Copyright Information Desk employees are not offical copyright experts, but they do provide advise regarding copyright law. “A student who has no direct or indirect commercial purposes for the copies being made, may – on the ground of Article 16 B – only copy a small portion of a book. Copying an entire book is only allowed when all editions of a book are sold out and no new editions can be expected”, says an employee from the Copyright Information desk from the EUR. 

Much cheaper

After entering the Copy Shop the first step is to obtain a copy card. A copy card containing 500 copies costs only 20 Euros. This is already twice as cheap as actually buying the book. The book contains only 250 pages, but since it is a relatively small book it is easy to resize the pages so that two pages can be printed on one A4 paper. This means that only 125 copies are needed and it costs actually only 5 Euros to copy the entire book. It is thus, indeed a lot cheaper.

Copying is indeed easy

After simply grabbing the book out of the bag and inserting the copy card only half an hour later the result is that the entire book is copied. Then, the book is placed safely back into the bag and nobody looks up while we walk out with 125 A4 papers in our arms. NdB

NOTE: EM does not support nor encourage students to copy entire study books since it can be in violation with Dutch copyright law.