The Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs issued the Email-1031119d Circular of November 19, 2014 (hereinafter, the "Circular") to respond to a request to clarify if "the production of physical original books into PDF files or electronic books by a copy shop violates the Copyright Law.

It was first pointed out in the Circular that authors have the right to reproduce their works under the Copyright Law. Since "scanning" is also a type of reproduction, scanning both the entirety and part of a book constitutes reproduction. Therefore, except for circumstances of "fair use" under Articles 44 through 65 of the Copyright Law, the permission or a license shall be first obtained from the copyright holder before such scanning can be conducted into PDF electronic files. Otherwise, this may constitute an act that infringes the right of reproduction of another party.

It was further pointed out in the Circular that Article 51 of the Copyright Law provides: "Within a reasonable scope, where for nonprofit use by an individual or a family, a work that has been publicly released may be reproduced by a machine that is either located in a library or is not provided for public use." Therefore, if a purchased book is scanned into a PDF electronic file by means of a scanner at home by the purchaser to facilitate individual reading, fair use may be claimed pursuant to this article with no need to obtain a license from the copyright holder. However, if a copy shop is asked to use its business scanner to scan the book, fair use under Article 51 of the Copyright Law probably cannot be claimed since the business scanner of the copy shop is a machine "for public use," even though such scanning takes place for personal reading.