College students' misunderstandings about copyright laws for digital library resources

Huan Chueh wu, Chien Chou, Hao Ren ke, Mei Hung Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper has two primary purposes: to explore common copyrightrelated problems that arise when librarians promote the use of digital library resources; and to investigate college students' misconceptions of copyright laws that arise when the students use these resources. Design/methodology/approach – Four librarians in charge of the management of digital library resources were interviewed regarding studentusers' problematic copyrightinfringement behaviors that these librarians often encountered when they promoted the use of digital library resources. Also, a semistructured questionnaire with nine questions about copyrightrelated behaviors was developed and distributed to college students. Students needed not only to identify whether the behavior was acceptable, but also to explain the reasons for their identification. A total of 109 valid sets of data were collected from 18 universities or colleges, the sets comprising responses from 48 undergraduate, 56 postgraduate, and five doctoral students. Findings – The librarianinterview results indicate that students' problematic behaviors included systematic downloading, distribution to unauthorized users, and going beyond the purpose and character of academic use. The studentsurvey results indicate that students had four major areas of misunderstanding about copyright laws when using digital library resources: the digital resources should be shared; the downloaded digital resources are all legitimately authorized and permitted; all educational use is fair use; and any downloading is permitted as long as students are paying tuition. Originality/value – This paper explores students' understanding and misunderstandings that arose when students used the school digital library resources and discusses implications of these results for librarians and libraries with regard to the design of related instruction. The paper also presents interpretations of students' thoughts and conduct, as well as some future possible research topics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalThe Electronic Library
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Apr 13


  • Colleges
  • Copyright law
  • Digital libraries
  • Resources
  • Students
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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