Copyright resources on the Web: Sites to keep you current

C&RL News, March 2007
Vol. 68, No. 3

by David Hodgins

The concept of copyright is an integral part of U.S. culture and law. From its inclusion in the U.S. Constitution to the recent passages of several key acts, such as the Copyright Term Extension Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, copyright has continued to grow and evolve as advances in technology change the way we store and transmit information. As ink and paper are replaced by bits and bytes and classrooms move into cyberspace, the issue of copyright has never been more relevant to individuals who work in libraries, archives, classrooms, etc. While the legislative and judiciary bodies scramble to keep up with the rapid pace of changing technologies, information professionals will need to actively work to stay current with copyright laws, guidelines, and best practices as they relate to the services they provide.

The resources presented here offer librarians, educators, and other information professionals a wide range of information on copyright from the introductory, to the practical, to the philosophical. There is no shortage of resources on the Web that tackle this thorny issue; a comprehensive listing of Internet resources, and the related issues of intellectual property and digital rights management, could easily consume volumes. The challenge is finding resources that are well designed, current, and authoritative without bogging the reader in legalese or jargon. The following Web sites are just a slice of some of the better resources one will find when researching the topic.
Here’s a sampling…
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States. A useful resource for determining a work’s copyright status. The page is part of the Cornell Copyright Information Center, which contains a respectable number of links to internal and external copyright resources. Access: http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/Hirtle_Public_Domain.htm

Creative Commons (CC). CC is a nonprofit organization that provides authors with (free) tools to manage their intellectual property. A CC license in essence allows others to reproduce a licensed work when they give credit to the license holder. The Web site has a tool that generates licenses (in HTML format) based on chosen criteria. Access: http://creativecommons.org/

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF’s mission is “defending freedom in the digital world.” The site has two sections that should be of particular interest to the reader: “Intellectual Property” and “Fair Use and DRM.” EFF offers background information on major topics, research, legislation, etc., with a strong focus on digital audio and visual, though the underlying concepts and ideas such as digital rights management, fair use, DCMA, etc. should be relevant to all information professionals. Access: http://www.eff.org/.
Link to article: http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/crlnews/backissues2007/march07/copyrightresources.htm

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