Copyright Law (Library of Congress)
Links to 4 recent amendments to US copyright law, and to the full text of the law contained in Title 17 of the United States Code.

1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Text (pdf format) specifying the changes to the US Copyright Act made by the US WIPO Copyright Treaties Implementation Act.

Online Institute for Cyberspace Law & Property (UCLA)
Useful summary of the features of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Circulars about Copyright (Library of Congress)
This page contains links to free copyright information circulars and form letters from the US Copyright Office.

Copyright FAQ (Library of Congress)
Introductory (not definitive) answers to a gamut of frequently asked copyright questions. These answers include information on obtaining permission to use previously-existing work, general definitions of 'work for hire' and other frequently used terms, material on registering a work with LC, and material on copyright as it applies to architecture and other media not covered by older versions of the Act.

Copyright for Computer Authors (Franklin Pierce Law Center)
Aspects of email and webpage copyright protection including issues of deep-linking and framed material. As with other pages of introduction and FAQ, this information is not legal advice.

Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions
An indexed and searchable archive of U.S. court decisions and legislation about intellectual property and other issues generated by the Internet. Email newsletter of updates also available.

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse (Electronic Frontier Foundation, et al.)
Independent site specializing in the post-DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) aspects of copyright extension - in effect dealing with the beginning of the globalization of copyright.
The Clearinghouse also deals with DMCA-related activities such as protest and parody, cease and desist letters, fan fiction, reverse engineering, derivative works and the question of linking: the freedom to link or deep-link on the web.


Although it is true that material is copyright once it is committed to a fixed medium (and "fixed medium" now includes computer drives), it is almost impossible to win damages without registration.
Registration provides definite proof and date of ownership and creation; it also, though this is rarely said in so many words, establishes a certain intent towards commerical value.

Procedures for Registration (Library of Congress)
Contains links to fliers detailing procedures for registering copyright for many forms of work - books, games, visual arts, sound recordings, etc.
Also contains links to circulars and factsheets of supplementary material, including information about things that are not copyrightable.
There has been a permanent change to the processing of registrations sent through the US mail.

Registration Forms (Library of Congress)
Links to forms which can be printed and used for registering copyright (pdf format.)

Copyrighting Titles (Publishing Law Center)
Though single titles are not generally copyrightable, this article points to the trademark/unfair competition laws which may protect a series title, for example.

Copyright Protection for Graphic Characters (Publishing Law Center)
Deals with the "value" of a graphic character (its instantly remunerable appearance on lunchboxes, school folders, candy bars, T-shirts) and how that may be protected.

Copyright Protection for Fictional Characters (Publishing Law Center)
Protecting the distinctiveness of a character, which underlies its potential extra-literary value.

Fair Use (1) (Publishing Law Center)
The first of a two-part installment, this article covers the factors determining fair use of copyright material.

Fair Use (2) (Publishing Law Center)
This second installment may help evaluate whether a particular use of a copyrighted work will be protected by the fair use doctrine.

When Works Pass into the Public Domain (Franklin Pierce Law Center)
A table summarizing the copyright life of works. Includes material from the Term Extension Act, PL 105-298.

Always check the copyright on music. Most music copyrights are held by corporations. The public domain chart may not apply to music.


Copyright Searching (Library of Congress)
A temporary interface set up for first-time or infrequent users, this page also contains links to the older, more difficult telnet search-method, and to the LC circular which explains how to investigate the copyright status of a particular work.


Creative Commons
In response to some of the issues raised at the time of the NOW episode linked below, Lawrence Lessig suggested a new type of some-rights registration.
Creative Commons is non-profit organization publishing works under a voluntary "some rights reserved" copyright, making these works free for futher creative use.
Yahoo has developed a specific search engine to locate these works.
This model is also being developed for music.

Orphan Works (Wired News )
This article describes the situation of "orphan works" - such as postcards - which, though verging on 100 years old, are not in the public domain because their copyright cannot be traced.
The Copyright Office is currently collecting comments on the situation in an effort to find a way to allow these works to be built on without denying the rights of owners who may be discovered later.

Copyright (NOW - PBS)
Transcript of a 2003 PBS program about the the shrinking of "fair use"under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the sequestration of pop-cult material under the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act.
The program also discussed the digital nature of new media and the fundamental difference between buying an object and licensing content.

Evolving Copyright Law (Library of Congress)
New legislation, with a link to an archive of additions and modifications of the last few years.


These organizations gather small fees for the use of written work that is lent through public libraries or copied with reprographic equipment. These fees are then passed on to the author or other copyright holder.

Copyright Clearance Center
Home page of the US organization designed to manage copyright, exchange and royalties.


Independent Publishing

Independent Publishing Resource Center (Portland OR)
An independent, non-profit organization, the IPRC provides a space for working, gathering and exchanging news, and access to tools to publish independently-created media and art.

The Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network
This site offers links on writing and publishing, research sources, the media, membership information and details on future meetings and special events.

Poetry and Prose

Poets and Writers
This non-profit organization offers readings and workshops, seminars, and an online message forum for writers; it also publishes Poets and Writers magazine.

Larger Organizations

Black Writers United
Email list created to support writers of Black literature by sharing news and information. The list is open to the public, but moderated.

American Crime Writers League
This organization for mystery writers formed in the late 1980's. The website contains news and information pages about writers of mystery fiction (new books, upcoming tours, capsule reviews, interviews), agent info, membership info and a members-only area.

Horror Writers Association
This organization for writers and publishers of horror and dark fantasy presents the Stoker Award for best horror novel of the year, sends members a bi-monthly newlsetter featuring market news and email bulletins, and makes available lists of agents, reviewers, and bookstores. There is a members-only area on the website; Affiliate and Associate memberships are also available.

Mystery Writers of America, Inc.
MWA serves its members by watching developments in legislation and tax law (membership is open to published writers, editors, screenwriters,and professionals in the field). MWA also sponsors symposia and mystery conferences and presents the Edgar Awards. This site contains links to membership info, agent info, regional chapters, and individual authors' sites.

National Writers Union
An industrial union, NWU offers grievance resolution, industry campaigns, contract advice, libel and errors and omissions insurance, health and dental plans, member education, job banks, and networking. NWU is affiliated with the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and through them with the AFL-CIO.

Romance Writers of America
RWA is a non-profit professional and educational association. The news page contains links for readers, booksellers, librarians, and media, as well as links to booklists, authors' pages, upcoming author appearances, RWA chapters, publishers, and a members-only area.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.
This site features information about the annual Nebula Awards and anthologies, an archive of articles on writing and ergonomics, samplers' fiction, reading lists, and links to members' home pages. Features a members-only area, links to info about membership requirements and benefits, and links to publications written originally for members but now also available to the public.

Western Writers of America
WWA sponsors the Spur Award for outstanding writing in the genre, holds an annual conference attended by editors and agents, and publishes a print magazine which gives detailed information about western writing and publishing. The website features an online magazine. WWA membership is open to any writer whose work deals with the American West.

Writers Guild of America
Listing of the services provided by the Writers Guild of America. WGA (west) is the union representing writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable & new media industries.

From files originally researched & compiled by M. F. McAuliffe and Mitzi Waltz.

Posted: Aug. 18, 2002. Last checked/modified/updated: July 7, 2006.

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