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Using book cover images on the library website

copyright cushionWouldn't it be nice to post book cover images on your library's website without that lingering feeling that you're breaking copyright law? What's the safest way to do it?

First, check with your catalog vendor or the vendor that supplies cover images for your catalog. Your usage agreement might permit you to use cover images on the library's website, too. It turns out that the cover images found in LINKcat can be used by LINKcat libraries on their websites as long as the images link back to the catalog. Bowker/Syndetic Solutions, which supplies cover images for LINKcat, has given this their blessing in their Syndetics Classic FAQ and via email. (Yes, I emailed them to be absolutely-positively-no-doubt-in-my-mind sure about this!) Make sure you use the new LINKcat Link Advisor to process your LINKcat URLs into durable links.

If extending the use of your catalog cover images isn't an option, try sources that supply free cover images. Two that I'm aware of are LibraryThing and OpenLibrary. These providers assert that using thumbnail-sized cover images can be considered Fair Use. Check the terms of use for each service and make sure your use complies.

Want more info about the legal stuff so you can make up your mind? LibraryLaw Blog discusses the copyright questions in "Book jackets - can libraries put pictures of book covers on the websites?" ALA also sponsors the Copyright Advisory Network, which includes a Fair Use Evaluator tool and a forum where you can ask specific questions about copyright.


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I just want to say that this works great with LINKcat and Syndetics Solutions! You can see how Madison has incorporated this on our MADreads blog (recent entries only) and our home page:
We even discovered yesterday, when LINKcat wasn't responding well, that we didn't lose our cover art, although clickthroughs to the catalog didn't work.

Thanks Jon Muzzall for making it happen on our site, and Amy and Rose for their help clarifying our "rights" to the content.

We're hoping to use this to help us build a less-expensive, easier to use replacement for BookLetters - call me if you are interested in our progress.

We've talked about making cover image widgets too. I'm interested to hear about your implementation of it!

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