Photo Credit: 2011 Regents of the University of Minnesota

This guide is designed to help you research information about copyright. It includes an index of scholarly sources that should be used. Included in the list are websites and search engines that will be helpful in your research. If you have any trouble finding these sources, please ask a librarian for help. Good Luck! Any comments or suggestions are welcome!
  • RCC Library Home Page: Most materials found in this research guide are available at the library's home page.
  • Reference Desk: Please contact us if you have any questions concerning this guide or research.

What is Copyright?

Copyright laws protect the author's ownership rights with respect to published and unpublished works. It gives the author exclusive rights to reproduce, sell, distribute, or lend original works not in public domain. In general, you cannot use, copy, reproduce, sell or change copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holder. Copyright laws protect ownership rights for a limited amount of time.

Copyright Basics
Complete version of the Copyright law

What is protected?

To be protected, works must be:
  • Fixed tangible medium- recorded in a permanent record or expressed in a tangible form.
  • Original

These works can be, but are not limited to:
  • Books and other written forms
  • Sound recordings
  • Images
  • Video
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Paintings
  • Computer software
  • Architectural works

What is not protected?

  • Works not in a fixed tangible form- Choreographic works or improvisational speeches that have not been noted or written or recorded.
  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or
    coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents.
  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a
    description, explanation, or illustration.
  • works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height
    and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from
    public documents or other common sources).
  • Some government works.
  • Works in the public domain.

When do you not have to seek permission to use copyrighted works? (exceptions)

Fair use- Provision in the copyright law which allows the use of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. Four factors must be used when making a good faith determination on whether to use without permission.
  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

More information on Fair use:
Fair use of copyrighted materials Univ. of Texas, Austin.
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries
Thinking through fair use Interactive tool which helps you decide if fair use applies. Univ. of Minnesota.

Library exception- Allows libraries access to copyrighted materials for non commercial use.

Exemption of certain performances and displays- The "Teach Act" allows distance education to apply fair use principles.



The on-line catalog provides access to the Library's collection of approximately 40,000 books, periodicals and audio-visual titles. These resources may be used to find information for assignments or general interest.
Tutorial for searching catalog and ordering books from Metro Boston Library Network (includes Boston Public Library)

Good Search Terms to use: words or phrase

  • Copyright
  • Intellectual Property
  • Public Domain
  • Fair Use


Infringement Nation : copyright 2.0 and you: KF2994 .T44 2011 by Tehranian, John. New York : Oxford University Press, c2011.

Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators : creative strategies and practical solutions: KF2995 .C74 2012 by Crews, Kenneth D.
Chicago : American Library Association, 2012.

Don't Steal Copyrighted Stuff! : avoiding plagiarism and illegal Internet downloading : PN167.G35 200 by Gaines, Ann. Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow Publishers, c2008.

Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity: Z642 V35 2001 by Siva Vaidhyanathan. New York, NY: New York University Press: 2001.

Internet Surf and Turf Revealed: The Essential Guide to Copyright, Fair Use and Finding Media: KF3030.1.Z9 W39 2006 by Barbara M. Waxer and Marsha L. Baum. Boston, MA: Thomson Course Technology: 2006.

Protecting Ideas: KF2980.H83 2006 by David L. Hudson Jr. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers: 2006.

The Public Domain: How to Find and Use Copyright-free Writings, Music, Art & More: KF3022.Z9 F57 2004 by Stephen Fishman. Berkeley, CA: Nolo: 2004.

Protect or Plunder?: Understanding Intellectual Property Rights: K1519.B54 S533 2001 by Vandana Shiva. New York, NY: Zed Books: 2001.

Reference Books

  • Encyclopedia of Cybercrime. McQuade III, Samuel C. REF HV6773.E53 2009.
  • Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime. Sage Publications. REF HV6768.E63 2005.
  • West's Encyclopedia of American Law. West Pub. Co. REF KF154.W47 1998.
  • Black's Law Dictionary. Garner, Bryan A. REF KF156.B53 2009.

Electronic Books

The library has recently added 20,000 online books from the vendor Ebrary. This is the “community college” collection, of interest to students and faculty at 2-year colleges. All books are simultaneously available to all RCC users.

Copyright Plain and Simple By: Carol Besenjak.

Digital Copyright: Law and Practice By: Simon Stokes.

Patents, Profits and Power: How Intellectual Property Rules the Global Economy By: Curtis Cook.

Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World By: Lawrence Lessig.

Who Owns Culture?: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law By: Susan Scafidi.

International Copyright: Principles, Law and Practice By: Paul Goldstein.


Use the library's databases to find articles.


Access to millions of journal, magazine, newspaper and reference source articles through our research databases.

Academic OneFile

Academic OneFile is the premier source for peer-reviewed, full-text articles from the world's leading journals and reference sources. With extensive coverage of the physical sciences, technology, medicine, social sciences, the arts, theology, literature and other subjects, Academic OneFile is both authoritative and comprehensive. Includes 19,281 articles on copyright.

Business Source Premier
Use this database to research all business and management topics. Includes directory listings for over 150,000 companies as well as investment analysts' reports on major companies and industries. Contains 27,542 articles on copyright.

Credo Reference
Through the Credo Reference database, RCC students can gain access to any of a possible 2,977,685 entries, from 284 titles and 57 publishers. Includes 51,040 entries related to copyright.

Issues & Controversies
Issues and Controversies helps researchers understand the crucial issues we face today, exploring more than 800 hot topics in business, politics, government, education, and popular culture. Updated weekly, with links to a 12-year back-file, Issues and Controversies offers in-depth articles made to inspire thought-provoking debates. Includes numerous entries on copyright.

Library, Information Science & Technology Abstract
Library, Information Science & Technology Abstract (LISTA) indexes more than 600 periodicals, plus books, research reports and proceedings. Subject coverage includes librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management and more. Contains 9,764 articles on copyright.

Streaming Videos

Full length and segment videos from Films On Demand.

Films On Demand

Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright 2:33 minutes

Intellectual Property 3:37 minutes

Intellectual Property Rights 2:12 minutes

Web sites

There are many good copyright web sites on the internet. These web sites have been evaluated by library staff. Remember to always evaluate internet resources. To find out more about evaluating web sites, Lesley University has a very good guide.

Citing Sources: Style Guides

APA Style TutorialDuke Library Guide to Assembling a List of Works CitedLaguardia Community College Library MLA and APA citation styleThe Owl at Purdue: APA Formatting and Style GuideThe Owl at Purdue: MLA 2009 Formatting and Style Guide

Basic Research Help

Please click the Ask a Librarian icon if you have any questions concerning these guides, need help finding material for your research or any general questions you might have.

General Library Information

Research guide prepared on 1/31/11 by Ry Burgess. Updated by William Hoag on 03/12/13