Lots of questions about copyright arrive in my email inbox on a steady basis—questions about ownership, fair use, library digital projects, and much more. I am delighted when I find time to answer them, but sometimes I am a bit regretful when I don’t share the answers with the world. Many people often have the same copyright questions. I try to find ways to share. I often take issues and questions that arise frequently and craft a new page or document on that subject for the website. I have written occasional blogs on various issues. This month, the Copyright Advisory Office is beginning a Question & Answer series in order to share additional copyright insights.
The questions are all rooted in reality. I take liberties to rewrite actual questions in order to make them more generally applicable to common situations, and I revise the questions to protect the identity or source of the original writers. My goal is to make the questions interesting and relevant and the answers useful. One could theoretically write dozens of pages in reply to complicated questions about uploading music, producing instructional videos, or creating an online degree program. These brief answers are attempts to focus on the main copyright issues, give a quick overview of legal principles, and link readers to further information. Few “answers” are final answers. I will do my best to guide readers in a particular direction, but the “answer” to a legal question almost always depends on your exact circumstances. I can give guidance and principles. You may apply them to your situation.
This service is not legal advice. It is education. I hope that you will find this Q&A initiative to be instructive and enlightening, and maybe more. Education is often useful, but legal matters can demand thorough research, and you may have to consult a lawyer. Meanwhile, please do contact us with your thoughts and comments—and with your copyright questions!
Thank you very much.
When making use of this page under the terms of the CC license, please include this form of attribution: "Used under a Creative Commons BY-ND license from Kenneth D. Crews." If your needs for the material are outside the scope of the license, please consider fair use or simply asking for permission.