Copyright Resources for Schools and Libraries

Copyright Law


Copyright Basics Circular from the U.S. Copyright Office.
This publication summarizes the basics of U.S. copyright law.

Copyright Office Information Circulars and Factsheets
The circulars and factsheets provide basic information about registration, fees, compulsory licenses, and other aspects of the copyright projecess.

Copyright Act of 1976, As Amended.
This site contains the text of Title 17 of the U. S. Code:

The Copyright Act of 1976 as incorporated in Title 17 of the U.S. Code is the basic law on copyright. The text includes changes made with passage of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (H.R. 2281) was passed by Congress and signed into law on October 28, 1998 and became P.L. 105-304. The full text of the law (59 pages) is contained at

Specific provisions of the DMCA include:
  • Anti-circumvention. The DMCA makes accessing copyrighted works that are protected by technological measures (passwords, encryption, etc.) an illegal activity, punishable by civil and criminal penalties, unless the access is authorized through rules set out by the Librarian of Congress. The Library of Congress' Copyright Office was directed to conduct rulemaking proceedings and to publish rules that permit circumvention under certain conditions. See ALA's page on Anti-Circumvention Rule for information on those rules.
  • Distance Learning. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) directed the Copyright Office to examine the issue of distance education and copyright and report back to Congress within six months. The Copyright Office submitted its report, which is available at: Remember that these are recommendations ONLY, on which Congress may or may not act. See the ALA Washington Office page on Distance Education: Distance Education and the TEACH Act
  • Library Preservation: See Library Preservation: Changes Incorporated in H.R. 2281, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (PL 105-304) on the ALA Washington Office home page: Library Preservation.
  • Online Service Providers: See OITP Intellectual Property Fact Sheet: FAQs About OSP Registration on the ALA Washington Office home page: OITP Fact Sheet.

Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, The Copyright Term Extension
Act (S. 505) as P.L. 105-278. The full text of the Act is at:

A flowchart for determining when U.S. copyrights in fixed works expire can be found at

The ALA Washington Office Guide to the Copyright Term Extension Act is at:
Copyright Term Extension Act. Dr. Laura Gasaway of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law has produced a chart called When Works Pass into the Public Domain. This chart can be found at:


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Fair Use

The U.S. Copyright Office has a standard factsheet, which
is used to explain fair use. The factsheet can be found at

The roles libraries play are shaped by copyright law and fair use. In the future
the roles libraries may play could be shaped by contract law. The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act is an example. For background and ALA's position on Proposed Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) see: UCITA 101 & 102.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Education Literacy Education

Distance Learning

The TEACH Toolkit: an Online Resource for Understanding Copyright and Distance Education. See TEACH Toolkit.
The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) "updates copyright law pertaining to transmissions of performances and displays of copyrighted materials. Such transmissions are critical to current higher education distance education efforts, including online courses." This site from North Carolina State University Libraries features a summary and the text of TEACH and information on implementation, best practices, and fair use. Also includes compliance checklists, a permissions guide, and copyright tutorials. Subjects: Copyright and distance education...Created by mrm...Librarians Index to the Internet.

Videorecordings and Copyright

The Department of Public Instruction has produced a list of questions and
answers on performance rights for videorecordings. See <a href="lbstat_coplicen>Performance Rights for Copyrighted Videorecordings: Frequently Asked Questions

Digital Images and Copyright

Digital Images and Copyright -- The Details
Created for teachers, this website provides tips for identifying free digital images available from the Internet, and for finding copyright statements that may restrict the use of some images.

Music and Copyright

Music Publishers' Association Copyright Resource Center.
Includes a guide to researching the copyright holder or publisher of a piece of music and forms for obtaining permission from the publisher to arrange a piece of music or make copies of out-of-print music.

A Guide to Copyright for Music Librarians
Includes Frequently Asked Questions and the Music Library Association's statements on the Copyright Law and Fair Use in Music.

Printed resources include the following:

Althouse, Jay. Copyright: The Complete Guide For Music Educators. 2nd ed. Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Pub. Co., 1997.

Woody, Robert H. "Copyright Law and Sound Recordings." Music Educators Journal Vol. 80, No. 6 (May 1994), p. 29.

Curatilo, Joe. "Authorized Duplication." Teaching Music Vol. 4, No. 6 (June 1997), p. 30.

The Web and Copyright

Web Law FAQ is located at: This list of
frequently asked questions about copyright and patent law and the web is provided by the law firm of Oppedahl & Larson LLP. It is not legal advice. It is intended to provide information about intellectual property.

MP3. For background on this new Internet technology which allows
downloading of music, see "Volume Turns Up on MP3 Debate," an article from the New York Law Journal.

Database Protection Issues

The ALA Washington Office monitors legislation that might pose a threat to the free flow of information and information in the public domain. They post developments and their position on their website: Database Protection.

Sample Copyright Policies


Copyright Guidelines for Okaloosa County Public Schools, Fort Walton Beach, Florida:

Copyright Guidelines, Library Services, Jefferson County Public Schools, Jefferson County, Colorado:

Special Libraries

Model Law Firm Copyright Policy at an American Association of Law Libraries Copyright Committee Report.

Academic Institutions

University of Wisconsin Steven Point Copyright Guide:

University of Texas Copyright in the Library offers a series of informative articles on policies and procedures:

Wellesley College Copyright Policy:


Additional Web Sites


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