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Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Resources

Below you’ll find suggested online and print resources for information on copyright and other intellectual property issues. The resources found on this page are not meant to offer legal advice but rather to guide and inform as you investigate copyright and other intellectual property concerns.

General-Interest Resources

Copyright Basics (Circular 1 from the U.S. Copyright Office)

Although detailed, this guide provides basic information on the legal concept of copyright, focusing on U.S. copyright law. The guide defines terminology, explains who can claim copyright, relates which works are protected and which are not under copyright, plus many other key points to help better understand copyright and author’s rights.

Office of General Counsel, University of Pittsburgh

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) of the University of Pittsburgh provides legal services and advice to the Pitt community. OGC services include reviewing and preparing university contracts and agreements, representing the university in legal proceedings, and providing legal advice to the university community.

U.S. Copyright Office

The official website for U.S. Copyright Law provides the full text of the nation’s copyright law, news on proposed copyright legislation, basic information (including circulars and forms) on copyright, and answers to frequently asked questions.

You can also search copyright records and learn how to register the copyright for a work you’ve created.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

This portal to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides resources for patents, trademarks, intellectual property law and policy, and much more.

Here you can do patent and trademark searches; find information for inventors, musicians, and artists; and get answers to frequently asked questions about patents, trademarks, and other industrial property topics.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

WIPO is an agency of the United Nations focused on international and transnational copyright and other intellectual property issues and policies. 


Law and Policy

University of Pittsburgh Policies

Pitt Policies on Copyright and Intellectual Property

This page links to additional Pitt policies on copyright and intellectual property. Here you’ll find information about patent rights; the use of university names, logos, and trademarks; a checklist for Pitt webpages; and guidelines on research data management at Pitt.

University of Pittsburgh Copyrights Policy

This policy explains the University of Pittsburgh copyright policy and those affected and covered by it.

U.S. Law and Policy

Copyright Law of the United States: And Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

The complete version of the U.S. Copyright Law, Title 17 of the U.S. Code.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (1998)

An amendment to U.S. copyright law, passed in 1998, that sought to address copyright concerns in the digital environment. Among its many provisions, the DMCA prohibited the circumvention of digital rights management (DRM) technologies that control access to copyrighted works.

The text of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is incorporated into Appendix B of the U.S. Copyright Law.

Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act (2002)

TEACH redefines the terms and conditions on which accredited, nonprofit educational institutions throughout the U.S. may use copyright protected materials in distance education – including on websites and by other digital means – without permission from the copyright owner and without payment of royalties.

Now included in Title 17, Section 110, of the U.S. Copyright Law.

Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet

A U.S. government resource provided via the Library of Congress, Thomas lets you search federal legislation, such as the full text of bills, congressional committee activities, votes, and more. You can find more information about copyright and other intellectual property legislation by doing a quick keyword search on "copyright" or "intellectual property."

U.S. Copyright Office: Copyright Legislation

From the U.S. Copyright Office, this site lists legislation pending, previously considered, or made into law by the U.S. Congress.

International and Non-U.S. Law and Policy

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

Here you’ll find the full text of the International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Also known as the Berne Convention, this is an international agreement wherein member countries guarantee the protections of rights granted to its own nationals to creators who originally published in a different country.

World Copyright Terms

Public Domain Day provides this useful worldwide map indicating the length of copyright terms for different countries.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Administered Treaties

WIPO administers 26 intellectual property, global protection, and classification treaties. The list with links to the treaties is available from this site.


News and Current Awareness Resources

Copyright Advisory Office Blog (Columbia University Libraries)

The Columbia University Libraries maintains this blog about current events and cases in copyright.

Copyright Librarian

Nancy Sims, a copyright librarian and lawyer at the University of Minnesota Libraries, blogs about current events in copyright law, scholarship, communication, and issues in higher education.

Direct Dispatch: ALA Washington Office Blog

This blog from the American Library Association’s Washington Office discusses current events and issues in copyright legislation.

IPEC: What’s New

News and information from the Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), part of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Kip Currier Copyright and “Open” Movements Blog

Written by Pitt School of Information Sciences professor and lawyer Kip Currier, PhD, JD. Dr. Currier gathers and comments on current happenings in copyright, open access, open data, open education, fair use, and more.


The SPARC Blog discusses in longer form current happenings in Open Access, scholarly communication and publishing, legislation and policy development, and copyright, among others.

SPARC News & Media

The SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources) news site covers U.S. and international developments in Open Access, scholarly communication and publishing, and copyright legislation and policy, among others.


Alternatives to Copyright

Creative Commons

Creative Commons enables creators to apply copyright terms to their works in a way that allows creators to give others a way to use, build upon, and share creative works while still getting credit. There are multiple licenses that can be applied which make the content of works more compatible with the activities and communication on the Internet.

Copyleft (from the Free Software Foundation)

Copyleft creates a method for making a software program or other work free, with the caveat that all other versions of that program are to be free as well. This ensures that the software will not become proprietary and that changes and modifications can be made to software.

The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More

Authored by lawyer and copyright expert Stephen Fishman, this book describes everything from art to choreography that can be found in the public domain, including how to find whether it is in the public domain and what to do with international works.

SPARC Author Addendum for Author Rights

Developed by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), the Author Addendum is designed to help authors secure their rights to journal articles. The addendum is a legal tool used by authors to modify the publisher agreement, allowing them to keep key rights to their articles (such as archiving, redistribution, and more).