Copyright Law Research Guide

This guide focuses on one area of intellectual property law, copyright law, and identifies print and electronic materials on the American federal copyright law system, focusing on the Copyright Act of 1976.


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These pages collect primary and secondary copyright-related materials.  Note that secondary source selections, like texts & treatises, will be different on each database, so it's ideal not to limit your research to just one.

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With the information explosion of the 21st century, copyright law is now considered a central element of the nation's information economy. Whether the issue is downloading music or distance education, traditional copyright principles are being applied to new technologies in a way few could have predicted. 

This research guide helps its readers select useful print and electronic materials on the American copyright law. The guide focuses on the Copyright Act of 1976, but refers to other intellectual property fields and international copyright where applicable.  We usually recommend starting your research with secondary sources such as treatises or legal encyclopedias.  Practitioner tools, journals, and news sources that cover copyright issues are also discussed on that page. 

This research guide also includes information on federal statutory and regulatory sources of American copyright law (including copyright legislation), guidance on finding case lawand information about copyright organizations and associations (a list of government, private and advocacy organizations that deal with copyright issues).  This page provides a few introductory tips on starting research into copyright law, including links to some of the most useful pages on the U.S. Copyright Office's website.

United States Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office website is a good, introductory source of information about U.S. copyright law and how to register a work. From the site, you can download forms (many of which you can complete online before you print them out), instructions, legislative information, and primers on the Copyright Act and how it applies to different types of works. 

The following pages may be particularly helpful:

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Print Materials & Major Texts

Generally, the library keeps its print collection of copyright law material in call numbers KF2986-3080.

The leading treatise on U.S. copyright law is Nimmer on Copyright, which is available electronically only on Lexis.  For other treatises and study aids on copyright law, both print and electronic, refer to the secondary sources page of this guide.  You may also find our intellectual property treatise finder helpful.

Update History

Updated 2/2022