This paper reviews the development of UK copyright law since the time the British Library was established, with particular reference to the “fair dealing” and “library” exceptions. At times when copyright laws have been under review publishers have argued for fewer and narrower “exceptions”, librarians have sought to maintain them or even extend them. The relationship between interlending and document supply and journal subscriptions has been a key issue in the debate. Studies which have attempted to understand this relationship are reviewed, as are the developing document supply policies of the British Library. Finally, note is made of the Library’s approach to licensing electronic versions of journals and the legal deposit of non‐print publications.
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