Working with Copyright–Protected Materials in a Digital Environment






The following annotated list of online copyright resources is organized under the following sections:

Copyright Basics
Fair Use and Public Domain
Legal Issues and Advocacy
Libraries and Copyright
Continuing Education

Although all sites listed below have valuable content, see especially the following for extensive coverage:
United States Copyright Office: Copyright
American Library Association
Cornell University: Copyright Information Center
Stanford University: Copyright and Fair Use
Berkeley Digital Library: Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, and Licensing Issues

Copyright Basics

Cornell University, Copyright Information Center. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Everything you need to know about copyright including sections on clearance services, training programs, hot topics, and resources.


Diotalevi, Robert N. "An Education in Šopyright Law: A Primer for Cyberspace."

Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, vol. 4 no.1 (Winter 2003).
(accessed June 16, 2005)

Copyright law is at the forefront of education in cyberspace. There has been recent copyright legislation enacted, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the TEACH Act, concerning Web-based education. This work provides an overview of copyright law and addresses the new laws, as well as related issues.


Harper, Georgia K. Copyright Crash Course. 2001. intellectualproperty/cprtindx.htm (accessed June 16, 2005)

The purpose of this website is to instruct the University of Texas community about copyright. In clear outline form it presents the history and evolution of fair use, who owns what, copyright management, licensing resources, and a place to “ask a lawyer” for UT users. The site's outline form and clear language make it a very useful introductory source on copyright. A section on getting permissions is particularly helpful.


Hurst Associates Ltd., Digitization 101. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Jill Hurst-Wahl, a digitization consultant, presents information on the creation, management, preservation, and copyright of digital assets.


Michigan State University, The Making of Modern Michigan: Digitizing Michigan's Hidden Past. 2003. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website was developed from a project undertaken with a grant from IMLS by ATLAS (Action Team for Library Advancement Statewide), an initiative of the Library of Michigan State University to train libraries in digitization techniques, metadata standards, and copyright issues, and to develop a digital collection on Michigan history. The copyright resources section is especially useful and contains a video presentation on copyright training.


O'Mahoney, Benedict. Copyright Website. 2005. June 16, 2005)

This website is intended for general use and includes an overview of copyright law, as well as more specific discussions of particular issues that have arisen in the areas of visual, audio, and digital resources. Information is given in nontechnical language, and the site is easy to navigate; however, it does manifest an ideological bias against strict interpretations of copyright.


Online Computer Library Century, Digitization and Preservation Online Resource Center. 2004. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website contains presentations and handouts from the Copyright in a Digital Age workshops held by OCLC. It includes topics such as Copyright Basics in a Digital World: Copyright Law in Cyberspace, Risk Management: What Can I Do and How Safe Is It? and The Permission Process.


Rutgers University Libraries, Copyright Information. 2004.
(accessed June 16, 2005)

This website maintains a large list of copyright resources, helpfully sorted into clear categories, including general tips, important organizations, and more specific topics such as licensing and permissions. The links are not annotated beyond title and source.


Stanford University, Copyright and Fair Use. 2004.
(accessed June 16, 2005)

Very thorough website, with much of the content taken from Nolo, the self-help legal publisher based in the Bay Area (Nolo also has a copyright on the website). The site is organized into useful categories including Copyright FAQs, Fair Use, The Public Domain, Introduction to the Permissions Process, Website Permissions, Academic and Educational Permissions, Releases, Copyright Research.


Templeton, Brad, Ten Big Myths About Copyright Explained. 2004. (accessed June 16, 2005)

The author, who is also the chairman of the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, describes this site as "An attempt to answer common myths about copyright seen on the Net and cover issues related to copyright and USENET/Internet publication." It is intended for a general audience.


United States Copyright Office, Copyright. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This is the official U.S. government site for copyright information. Here you will find all 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 about what the office is doing, including business-process reengineering plans; congressional testimony and press releases; latest regulations; and a link to online copyright records cataloged since 1978.


University of California, UC Copyright: Using Copyrighted Works. 2003. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Aimed primarily at the University of California community of students and faculty, this website has a step-by-step guide with strategies for obtaining permission to use copyrighted works for educational purposes. It also contains useful definitions of terms and links to websites with current copyright news and issues.


Yale University Libraries, Copyright Resources Online. 2000. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website lists and annotates available online material on copyright and intellectual property, sorting them into the categories of scholarly papers, university resources, and non-university resources. Its annotations often highlight particularly useful sections of the website being described. However, because pages are categorized by institution rather than by subject, it is somewhat difficult to locate specific information. The scholarly papers are not annotated.

Fair Use and Public Domain

Association of Research Libraries, "Fair Use in the Electronic Age: Serving the Public Interest." 1995. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This monograph outlines the lawful uses of copyrighted works by individuals, libraries, and educational institutions in the electronic environment. It is intended to inform ongoing copyright discussions and serve as a reference document for users and librarians.


Gasaway, Lolly, "When U.S. Works Pass into the Public Domain." 2003. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This chart is organized by date outlining when creative works are not protected by copyright anymore and may be freely used.


Snow, Maryly. Digital Images and Fair Use websites. 1997. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This monograph discusses digital online images using three fair use websites as examples: SPIRO, the visual public access catalog of the Architecture Slide Library at the University of California, Berkeley; the Vincent Van Gogh Information Gallery; and the Art Imagebase from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. This presentation introduces the notion of fair use websites; describes three fair use websites; and identifies problems and idealized solutions for the use of digital images in fair use websites.


Starr, Irene, "Fair Use Chart." 2005. (accessed  June 16, 2005)

This chart organizes the fair use status of a work according to seven factors: its purpose and character, its nature, the degree of use, the proportion of the work used, the level of exposure, premeditation, and honesty of use. The chart is concise and readable, but it does not offer explanations or discussions of the terms used.


Visual Resources Association, Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, Fair Use. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website maintains a list of nonannotated online copyright resources for visual resources librarians. Most useful is the list of reports and papers on visual resources copyright, as well as the links to fair use guidelines and principles for visual resources.

Legal Issues and Advocacy

Besser, Howard. Intellectual Property and New Info Technology. 2004. (accessed September 30, 2005).

This page includes links to many websites and bibliographic citations concerning intellectual property issues, including history, public policy debates, and national and international legal activities.


Center for Democracy and Technology, Digital Copyright. 2005. June 16, 2005)

The organization's mission statement: "The Center for Democracy and Technology works to promote democratic values and constitutional liberties in the digital age. With expertise in law, technology, and policy, CDT seeks practical solutions to enhance free expression and privacy in global communications technologies. CDT is dedicated to building consensus among all parties interested in the future of the Internet and other new communications media." Updated frequently, the section on copyright gives news headlines and a brief summary of new stories relating to the subject.


Colorado Digitization Program, Legal, Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues. 2003. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website is part of a larger site devoted to organizing and managing a digitization project. This page is logically and clearly laid out with relevant links, and it contains sections on introducing the legal issues; sources to consult; questions to ask yourself when digitizing the collection; and frequently asked questions.


Copyright Clearance Center, 2005. June 16, 2005)

Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., the largest licenser of text reproduction rights in the world, was formed in 1978 to facilitate compliance with U.S. copyright law. CCC provides licensing systems for the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted materials in print and electronic formats throughout the world. The catalogue may be searched by publication title, publisher name, or standard number.


Electronic Frontier Foundation,  Electronic Frontier Foundation: Defending Freedom in the Digital World. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Based in San Francisco, EFF is a nonprofit, donor-supported membership organization working to promote fundamental rights regarding technology; to educate the press, policymakers, and the general public about civil liberties issues related to technology; and to act as a defender of those liberties. Notable site topics include copyright law, intellectual property, and digital rights management. The site includes two archives that are searchable; “Intellectual Property: Digital Rights Management (DRM) Systems and Copy-Protection Schemes” ( and “Intellectual Property Online: Patent, Trademark, Copyright.” ( )


The Free Expression Policy Project, Issues: Copyright. 2004. June 16, 2005)

The Free Expression Policy Project (FEPP) provides research and analysis on censorship issues, and seeks solutions to the concerns that drive censorship campaigns. In May 2004, FEPP became part of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. This site includes several interesting policy reports such as, "The Progress of Science and Useful Arts."


Harris, Lesley Ellen, 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005) is a website devoted to Canadian, U.S. and international copyright law, digital licensing, e-commerce, digital property and Web-related legal issues. The Copyright Newsletter for libraries, archives, and museums is archived online.


Minow, Mary, 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Focuses on legal issues of interest to librarians such as copyright. Includes a Library Law blog, breaking news, compilations of court cases and legislation, academic and online courses.


UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 2001. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This monograph provides highlights and extracts from the DMCA.


United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Collection of National Copyright Laws. 2005.
(accessed June 16, 2005)

UNESCO provides access to national copyright and related rights legislation of 100 UNESCO member states.


United States Copyright Office, "Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998." Copyright Office Summary, December, 1998. (accessed June 16, 2005)

U.S. Copyright Office summary of the DMCA.

Libraries and Copyright

American Library Association, Copyright Advisory Network. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

The American Library Association's Office for Information and Technology Policy has created this site to provide a forum for librarians to discuss copyright issues. A user must create an account to log questions and responses in the forum. This site does not provide legal guidance but does provide a space for librarians and other interested parties to bring specific questions and exchange ideas about copyright.


American Library Association, Copyright Issues. 2005.
(accessed June 16, 2005)

This ALA site focuses on up-to-date legislative information on copyright laws pertaining to libraries, in order to facilitate collective action by the library community. It condenses the year's legislative agenda and summarizes the effects of proposed laws on libraries and educational resources.


American Library Association, Digital Rights Management and Libraries. 2005.
(accessed June 16, 2005)

The Washington Office of the ALA provides a Web page on digital rights including sections on DRM: a brief introduction, library and higher education concerns, legislation, a glossary, resources, and links.


Association of Research Libraries, Federal Relations and Information Policy: Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website is intended for librarians and intellectual resource managers, and focuses on digital and online materials. It includes the text of current and proposed legislation, international legal materials relating to copyright, policy documents from major institutions, and a frequently updated section of current copyright news.


Association of Research Libraries, "Intellectual Property: An Association of Research Libraries Statement of Principles." 1994. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Principles adopted by the leadership of the ARL in May 1994 to guide intellectual property policy.


Baron, Robert A.
Copyright, Museum Computerization, Mona Lisa, Art History et al. 2005. June 16, 2005)

Robert Baron is an arts and information consultant who is active in the College Art Association and other professional organizations, and has spoken and published widely about copyright and intellectual property issues related to the teaching and study of art history. A page on this site ( lists papers and projects on copyright and intellectual property, including those relating to the College Art Association Committee on Intellectual Property.


Berkeley Digital Library, Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, and Licensing Issues. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website contains a lengthy, but briefly annotated, list of copyright resources in the categories of current issues, general reference, organizations and initiatives, articles and papers, and legal documents and policy. Users can also generate a current bibliography of annotated copyright articles on request.


Coyle, Karen. Writings on the Digital Age. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Karen Coyle worked for more than twenty years on the University of California's digital library projects and is now a consultant in various aspects of digital libraries. She has contributed to traditional and emerging metadata standards, and has written extensively on the effects of technology on privacy, copyright, and intellectual freedom. Her home page contains articles and papers she has presented concerning rights management.


D-Lib Magazine, D-Lib Magazine. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Monthly magazine about innovation and research in digital libraries


Hall, Virginia. “Fair Use or Foul Play? The Digital Debate for Visual Resources Collections.” 1997. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This monograph is a paper given at the Association of College and Research Libraries, New England Chapter conference "Wired and Wary: Legal Issues for Librarians in the Digital World" held at Boston University on November 7, 1997.

It discusses issues concerning the use of copy photography (slides or digital images made from books, catalogs, or journals) as a fair use in art history education and includes work on developing guidelines and principles for use of such images in the digital age.


International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Information Policy: Copyright and Intellectual Property. 2005. (accessed June 16, 2005)

A bibliography of international resources related to copyright and intellectual property.


Michigan Library Consortium, Copyright and Digitization. 2002. (accessed June 16, 2005)

Among other useful resources on this site, a copyright tip sheet lists five questions to ask in determining whether an item is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Specific answers to these questions lead to categories that outline appropriate actions to take.


Music Libraries Association, Copyright for Music Librarians. 2004. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website presents copyright information specifically for music librarians. Especially helpful is its lengthy list of detailed FAQs on topics such as reserves, preservation, off-air recording, and MIDI and other formats. The site also includes current news, a nonannotated resource list, and links to copyright guidelines used by library organizations.


National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH), The NINCH Guide to Good Practice in the Digital Representation and Management of Cultural Heritage Materials. Co-authored with the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII), University of Glasgow. 2002. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website aims to provide tools for the developers of digital resources to adopt shared best practices. Fourteen chapters cover subjects including project planning, rights management, capture and management of images, digital asset management, and preservation. This site is comprehensive and clear; a PDF version is available for download.


UC San Diego Film and Video Library, (C)opyright. 2000. (accessed June 16, 2005)

An interpretation of copyright law as it applies to film and video libraries. It reviews the basics of the law and its exemptions. Most helpful is the simple review of copyright law relating to off-air recordings, video copying, and found footage.


UC San Diego Science and Engineering Library, Copyright Considerations in the Digital Age. 2000. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This website gives a brief, nontechnical overview of copyright law for educators, students, and librarians, and it offers a short annotated list of links for further information. It touches on the law itself, its application to the Internet, and fair use and educational use exemptions, but does not go into great detail. 


United States Copyright Office, "Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians." 1998. (accessed June 16, 2005)

This pamphlet, produced by the U.S. Copyright Office for use by libraries and educational institutions, excerpts in one document all the relevant law related to copyright and liability. It also includes policy discussions from congressional reports and debates on the subject, as well as guidelines for the recording of broadcast media for educational purposes.


Yale University Library, Licensing Digital Information: A Resource for Librarians. 2003. (accessed June 16, 2005)

A guide for librarians to crafting licensing agreements for digital information. The site includes a model agreement, a glossary of terms, a bibliography of resources, and links to other online resources.

Continuing Education

American Library Association

The American Library Association is the largest and oldest library organization in the world. Consisting of eleven divisions and fifteen offices, it sponsors numerous conferences, meetings, forums, institutes, library promotions, and other events. Descriptions can be found on the Events and Conferences page ( A typical e-learning course, available to members and nonmembers, is 'Current Copyright Issues Facing Academic Librarians' to be offered in 2006 and sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries.


Association for Library Collections and Technical Services

The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services sponsors an interest group on networked resources and metadata. This group offers continuing education, discussion groups, and links to other education sources.


Michigan Library Consortiums

Michigan Library Consortiums offers onsite copyright workshops and programs on request for libraries and schools. The site also provides a wealth of information about digitization, and preservation, and related copyright issues.


Nolo Law for All

Nolo, a legal publisher founded by a small group of attorneys in the 1970s, has become the national leader in do-it-yourself legal solutions for consumers and small businesses. Nolo offers comprehensive, yet accessibly written, books and other materials relating to a substantial range of legal issues, including intellectual property rights. Numerous publications include sample legal forms. Self-help publications related to copyright, intellectual property, and patent included volumes on securing permission for copyrighted material, public domain, copyright related to written work, copyrighting software, copyrighting artwork and visual material, music law, and protecting trade secrets (
). Timely information is also available on the website, as well as in an e-mail newsletter, BizBriefs.


Northeast Document Conservation Center

The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) is the largest nonprofit, regional conservation center in the United States. NEDCC regularly offers a  three-day course, School for Scanning: Creating, Managing, and Preserving Digital Assets. Topics include legal issues, digital technology, and copyright management in digitization programs.



OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership-based, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs. OCLC furthers professional development through online learning, conferences, meetings, services, and workshops. A one-day training session, 'Basic Copyright Management for Digital Materials,' was offered in July, 2005.


Society of American Archivists

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) is a professional association that serves the educational and informational needs of its membership community and whose mission is to ensure the identification and preservation of historical records in various public, private, educational, and institutional contexts. They offer conferences, seminars, publications, and advocacy, among other services. In 2005, professional education offerings with continuing education credits include a two-day workshop, "Copyright: The Archivist and the Law," which examines copyright and intellectual property law issues including significant recent legal decisions, and the relevance of U.S. federal law to archives and manuscripts.


Museum Computer Network

The Museum Computer Network is a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to supporting and advancing museum work through the use of computer technologies. Special interest groups include Intellectual Property and Digital Media. In 2004 MCN co-sponsored a symposium with Minnesota Electronic Resources in the Visual Arts on "Intellectual Property and Digital Image Collections."