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Copyright Basics: Resources

An introduction to the principles of copyright law.


The following are recommended resources for learning more about different aspects of copyright, organized by topic. 

Copyright Resources

U.S. Copyright Office

The Copyright Office website allows you to register copyrights, search copyright records, and learn more about copyright.


Copyright and Fair Use (Stanford University Libraries)

This website offers an overview of most aspects of copyright law, including fair use, permissions, and the public domain. 


Copyright Advisory Services (Columbia University Libraries)

This website offers a useful overview of copyright, fair use, and permissions.


Copyright Crash Course (University of Texas Libraries)

This guide allows anyone interested in understanding and managing their copyrights to explore different areas of copyright law.


Music Copyright Tutorials (College of William and Mary)

This series of videos provides an overview of copyright as it relates to music. 


Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States (Cornell University Library)

This comprehensive chart helps determine whether a work has entered the public domain in the U.S.


Public Domain Slider (Copyright Advisory Network)

This tool helps determine whether a work is still protected by copyright. 

Fair Use Resources

Fair Use Checklist (Columbia University Libraries)

This PDF tool helps make fair use assessments by working through each of the four factors. 


Fair Use Checklist (The Ohio State University Health Sciences Library)

This version of the fair use checklist helps users make fair use assessments by working through each of the four factors, and sends users an email summary of their analysis for their records. 


Summaries of Fair Use Cases (Stanford University Libraries)

This website provides summaries of fair use cases, which are useful for understanding how fair use decisions are made. 


Codes of Best Practices in Fair Use (Center for Media & Social Impact)

This series of Codes of Best Practices help illuminate the application of fair use in different areas like documentary filmmaking, academic and research libraries, visual arts, online video, and journalism.
Fair Use Index (U.S. Copyright Office)
The index tracks fair use decisions made by U.S. courts.

Permissions and Public Licenses Resources

Introduction to the Permissions Process (Stanford University Libraries)

This guide offers a detailed overview of what permission is and how to seek it. 


Asking for Permission (Columbia University Libraries)

This page offers an overview of how to ask for permission, along with several model permissions letters. 


Permissions FAQ (Association of University Presses)

This guide offers permissions guidelines as they typically apply to university press publishing, including several model permissions letters. 


Creative Commons

Creative Commons offers a suite of public licenses and information about how to use them. 

Courses and Webinars

CopyrightX (Harvard Law School)

CopyrightX is an online course offered annually. The course lectures and readings cover a variety of copyright topics and are available at the website, as is information on applications for the course itself.


Copyright for Librarians and Educators (Coursera)

This course provides a basic introduction to U.S. copyright law over four weeks’ worth of sessions.


CopyTalk (ALA OITP Copyright Education Subcommittee)

CopyTalk is a series of webinars on specific copyright topics. Most are archived on their website.


Liz Hamilton's picture
Liz Hamilton
Copyright Librarian

NU Press, Digital Scholarship Services
University Library
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
(847) 491-2458

Legal Advice

This guide contains information about copyright law. It is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult an attorney.