Copyright Resources For Libraries And The People Who Work In Them

Classes, Webinars, and Presentations

Copyright X is a massive open online course (MOOC) offered by Harvard Law School. It is free, and it is intended to be as rigorous as a conventional copyright class in law school. It includes lectures online and work in smaller cohorts. Usually, one or more cohorts are designated for people working in libraries, and a lawyer-librarian leads them. At the end of the class, Copyright X offers a final, and participants who pass the final get a certificate of completion.

OCEAN, the Online Copyright Education and Advisory Network, is a confederation of library copyright experts who deliver webinars on copyright topics for librarians, museum staff, and other workers in cultural institutions. The list of their current course offerings is here. Their emphasis is on short, issues-based panel presentations, and most are oriented toward people who already know copyright basics.

ASERL Copyright Office Hours: The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries holds copyright office hours every month, usually on the last Friday of the month. One or more library copyright experts answer questions from participants in a semi-confidential environment. Although ASERL gives precedence to its own members as participants, there is almost always room for others to register. I usually help staff ASERL copyright office hours two or three times a year. ASERL also delivers a variety of webinars and workshops that are open to the library community broadly, and sometimes they are about copyright. In general, ASERL online events are free.

Library Futures is an organization that advocates and educates on a variety of copyright-related issues, including library licenses for ebooks and controlled digital lending. They offer webinars irregularly, mostly related to issues in the news.

Coursera MOOCs

Several years ago, colleagues from Duke University and Emory University and I filmed two copyright MOOCs on the Coursera platform. The first one is called Copyright for educators and librarians and the second one is Copyright for multimedia. Neither course has been updated. The discussions of music copyright are now out of date, and there is no discussion of copyright case law since 2015, but most of the information is still relevant. They include quizzes and final projects, and participants can receive an official certificate of completion if they pay a fee.


Kenneth D. Crews, Copyright for librarians and educators, American Library Association, 2020. A concise, highly relevant guide to library copyright.

Peter Hirtle, Copyright and cultural institutions, Cornell University Press, 2009. A really helpful book, although it’s getting dated, especially the music copyright sections.

Carla S. Myers, Copyright and course reserves, ABC-CLIO, 2022.

NOLO books on intellectual property. NOLO is an imprint that specializes in material that makes legal information understandable to the layperson. All their intellectual property books are good, although the content in some of them overlaps.

Carrie Russell. Complete Copyright for K-12 librarians and educators, 2nd ed. ALA Editions, 2023.


The University of Texas Libraries, Copyright for librarians. This site is a subsection of their Copyright crash course. The crash course has been around for a long time, and it’s recently gotten a facelift.

Library Copyright Alliance is a joint project of the Association of Research Libraries and the American Library Association. They fund and publicize library copyright advocacy, such as issue briefs to the public and amicus briefs to the court in relevant litigation cases.

The U.S. Copyright Office includes a lot of helpful information, including circulars, the Copyright Compendium, reports staff have written, and an index of fair use cases.

Cornell University Library’s Copyright Services site includes a very useful table for determining copyright term and public domain in the United States.

The Stanford Fair Use site includes fair use case summaries.

Dear Rich: An intellectual property blog. Richard Stim, a NOLO author on intellectual property topics, writes this blog in a Q&A format that is accessible to non-lawyers. One thing to remember is that his advice is geared toward general settings, not usually educational, non-profit world.

ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries.

Copyright Advisory Network has a wheel that you can spin to learn about Section 108.

Center for Media and Social Impact’s Codes of best practices in fair use.

Eric Harbeson has written an extensive guide on the Music Modernization Act and its relation to sound recording collections that includes decision trees to determine non-commercial uses and teaching exceptions.

Columbia University’s Fair Use Checklist.


There are two main conferences that focus on copyright issues in libraries:

Carla Myers, the Scholarly Communications Coordinator at Miami University of Ohio, started both conferences—and wrote the book on legal issues and e-reserves mentioned above.