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Copyright: The Law and Guidelines

Links to U.S. Copyright Law and Guidelines

United States Copyright Office "Here you will find all our key publications, including informational circulars; application forms for copyright registration; links to the copyright law and to the home pages of other copyright-related organizations; news of what the Office is doing, including Congressional testimony and press releases; our latest regulations; a link to our online copyright records cataloged since 1978; and much more."

Copyright Law of the United States Library of Congress website.

U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index The goal of the Index is to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public by presenting a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use (e.g., music, internet/digitization, parody).

Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute: Title 17 - Copyrights

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States Unpublished Works; Works Published in the US; Works Published Outside the US [chart format]

What is Fair Use? Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office.

Distance Education and the T.E.A.C.H. Act American Library Association History and Discussion of the T.E.A.C.H. Act

The T.E.A.C.H. Toolkit Produced  at North Carolina State University, offers explanations to educators regarding distance education and fair use.

UC Copyright: T.E.A.C.H. Act A Resource for the University of California Community.

Copyright Office Summary and American Library Association commentary (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Of 1998 U.S.)

World Intellectual Property Organization [WIPO] Copyright Treaty The World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty, "International Protection of Copyright and Neighboring Rights".

Online Guides

American Association of Law Libraries: Guidelines on the Fair Use of Copyrighted Works by Law Libraries These Guidelines describe conditions under which fair use and the library exemption should generally apply. A particular use that exceeds these Guidelines may or may not be a fair use, but the more one exceeds the Guidelines, the greater the risk that fair use does not apply. The American Association of Law Libraries believes that operation within these Guidelines provides a safe harbor, although only the courts can determine authoritatively whether a particular use is a fair use.

American University Center for Social Media - Fair Use Best Practices The Center for Social Media showcases and analyzes media for public knowledge and action—media made by, for, and with publics to address the problems that they share.

Columbia University - Copyright Advisory Office The Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University has a central mission to address, in a creative and constructive manner, the relationship between copyright law and the work of the university in order to best promote research, teaching, library services, and community involvement.

Copyright Crash Course - University of Texas Own, manage and share copyright.

Copyright for Music Librarians by the Music Librarians Association.

Digital Scholarship & Publishing Center from North Carolina State University.

Introduction to Copyright for Librarians A short PowerPoint presentation covering the basics of copyright prepared for students of the MSIS program at the University at Albany, SUNY by Karen E. Kiorpes.

Library Copyright Alliance The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) consists of three major library associations — the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries.These three associations cooperate in the LCA to address copyright issues that affect libraries and their patrons.

Electronic Discussions

LIBLICENSE-L Mailing List Sponsored by The Yale University Library, Commission on Preservation & Access, and the Council on Library Resources, with a moderated and archived list.

Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University Washington College of Law: Copyright and Intellectual Property Forum Sponsored by the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University with a moderated and archived list.

Stanford University Libraries - Copyright and Fair Use List of communities, primarily listservs.

U.S. Copyright Office. NewsNet A newsletter regarding copyright-related legislation and other activities, published by the U.S. Copyright Office. For subscription information, visit the Copyright Office Website at

Virginia Scholarly Communications Interest Group The Virginia Scholarly Communications Interest Group was formed in June 2013 as a forum for academic librarians in Virginia to share information and discuss a wide array of scholarly communication issues, such as copyright, open access publishing, open educational resources, library publishing and data. It is of interest to those beyond VA. Listserv informative and volume is moderate.

Selected Readings


Bonner, Kimberly M., ed. The Center for Intellectual Property Handbook. ALA/Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2006.

Crews, Kenneth D. Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators : Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions, 2nd. ed., American Library Association, 2011.

Fishman, Stephen. The Copyright Handbooks: What Every Writer Needs to Know. 13th edition. NOLO, 2017 (14th edition to be released December 29, 2020)

Geiger, John L. and Howard Suber. Creativity and Copyright: Legal Essentials for Screenwriters and Creative Artists. University of California Press, 2019.

Goldstein, Paul and P. Bernt Hugenholtz. International Copyright: Principles, Law and Practice. Oxford University Press, 2010.  

Lipinski, Tomas A. The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook for Librarians and Educators. Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2006.

Schofield, Brianna and Robert Kirk Walker. Fair Use for Non-Fiction Authors: Common Scenarios with Guidance from Community Practice. Authors Alliance, 2017.

Government Publications

U.S. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians, 8/2014.

U.S. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. Circular 92. Copyright Law of the United States. (December 2016).

U.S. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. Forms for registration of copyright with the Library of Congress Copyright Office.