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University Library


Copyright Instruction Library Guide

Unit Summary

This unit provides a primer on aspects of United States copyright law that relate to library publishing and provides guidance on creating two essential copyright policies: 1. An externally facing copyright policy for authors considering publishing with the library publishing unit; and 2. A copyright review policy for internal purposes (i.e. how to review submitted publications for copyright issues). Nothing in this unit substitutes for legal advice or constitutes legal advice. It is important to work closely with University Counsel when working to comply with University copyright policies, legal requirements, and the needs of the publishing group.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the session, participants will be able to…

  • Understand basic copyright principles, including the length and scope of authors’ rights
  • Identify and create copyright policies that support publishing unit goals and authors’ rights
  • Apply the principle of fair use in publishing
  • Make informed decisions about when and how to register a copyright with the US Copyright Office

Target Audience & Delivery Mode

Audience: iSchool students; new librarians
Ideal class size: 18 or fewer
Ideal unit length: 3 hours 10 minutes
Optimal for: In person, instructor-led training to make the most of peer sharing                                              


Set-up Needs (supplies, materials)

  • Whiteboard and markers
  • Projector and screen

Trainer Preparation Resources

The following resources may help instructors prepare to teach this unit.

Curriculum Materials

  • Unit 1 Narrative
  • Unit 1 Slides
  • Unit 1 Bibliography
  • US Copyright Then and Now Handout
  • Author Agreement Activity Handout
  • Using Others' Work Activity Handout
  • Creating Copyright Policies Activity Handout


Participant Pre-Work

The instructor may choose to assign the Unit 1 Narrative as pre-reading. The narrative covers the same material as the in-class presentations and activities and will be redundant if used in conjunction with in-class lectures.

Participants should read the following articles prior to the first session: