Category Archives: Copyright & Fair Use

Fair Use Refresher

Copyright can be confusing, and that confusion can cost you time, money, as well as affect your mission to inform the public.  It's always a great time to reacquaint yourself with the tenets of fair useColumbia Libraries Copyright Advisory Office has a number of resources to help you understand fair use, including What is Fair Use? and the Copyright Quick Guide

Make these and American University's Center for Social Media's Copyright, Free Speech, and the Public's Right to Know: How Journalists Think About Fair Use a part of your summer reading list!  And, when in doubt, ask a librarian for assistance

New Copyright Website from CUL

— For Immediate Release —
From: Laura Kenna, Columbia University Libraries, 212-854-4692,

New Copyright Website from Columbia University

NEW YORK, November 11, 2009 – The Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University in the City of New York, a leading provider of copyright resources for the educational community, has launched a fully revised and updated website of copyright issues and information. The new site is publicly accessible at, and offers expanded pages on copyright ownership, fair use, publication agreements, the Google Books settlement, and much more.

A principal mission of the Copyright Advisory Office (CAO), under the directorship of Dr. Kenneth Crews, is to provide copyright information and guidance for the academic community. The CAO website focuses on questions of ownership and publication of scholarly works, fair use in the context of scholarship and teaching, and the creation of digital libraries and preservation initiatives at university libraries.

Materials available immediately on the CAO website include:

  • A "QuickGuide" outlining succinctly the basics of copyright law.
  • Guidance for understanding and applying fair use, including the popular "Checklist for Fair Use" conceived by Dr. Crews and now utilized at a wide range of educational institutions.
  • Explanations and tools addressing library copying for research, preservation, and more.
  • Details about identifying materials in the public domain and understanding the rules of copyright duration.
  • Instructions for requesting and securing permissions from copyright owners.
  • Pointers and tips for authors about publication agreements and the importance of negotiating and retaining records.
  • A blog of postings from the CAO on Google Books and many other issues.
  • Extensive links to a wealth of copyright information.

New materials will be posted to the site on a continuing basis. The website was developed and designed in partnership with Columbia’s Center for Digital Research and Scholarship and its Scholarly Communication Program. Visit the website of the Copyright Advisory Office:

For more information, contact the CAO at phone number (212) 851-0757 or by email:

The Copyright Advisory Office (CAO) was established within Columbia University Libraries at the beginning of 2008, and it is of service to the wider academic community. Dr. Kenneth Crews, CAO Director, previously directed a similar office at Indiana University. He teaches International Copyright Law in the Columbia Law School and has conducted copyright workshops, lectures and programs in more than 40 states and on five continents. He is the author of many books and articles, including Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators (2nd Edition, 2006).

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.

Questions (and Answers!) From Orientation Library Sessions…

Q: What library services will I have access to after I graduate? Will I have access to Lexis Nexis and Factiva?

A: For 3 months after graduation, all graduates will continue to have access to the same resources that were available to them when they were students. Columbia University alums are welcome to use the libraries on campus after obtaining the Alumni Library Card upon graduation at the Library Information Office. Lexis Nexis and Factiva are currently not included in the list of electronic resources available to alumni, but there are many benefits and services available at Columbia University Libraries, including access to ProQuest newspapers. For a full listing of electronic services available to alums, click here.

Q: May I use photographs downloaded from AccuNet/AP Multimedia Archive on my personal blog? May I copy a journal or newspaper article in its entirety to my personal blog?

A: All materials obtained from Columbia University Libraries databases are for research, instructional, and educational uses only. Please see the Copyright and Fair Use category on this blog for further information.

Photos from the AccuNet/AP Multimedia Archive may be downloaded for class-specific projects only, and you must credit the AP in your project.

With journal articles, you may incorporate bibliographic citations into your personal blog, but copying the entire article would be in direct violation of our database license.

Q: Will my Columbia ID give me access to the Medical Library?

A: Yes! With you Columbia ID, you may access the Medical Library and all libraries on campus.

More Questions and Answers from Orientation Library Sessions coming soon!

A Comic Book That Teaches About Fair Use

The Duke University Center for the Study of the Public Domain has produced a comic book that explains how copyright restrictions and the principle of fair use apply to documentary filmmakers.  The information is presented in an entertaining format, with clear and easy to follow examples.  You can view the comic book online, download it, order hard copies on Amazon.  Academic users can also order in bulk at a reduced price (see website for details).

Resource Spotlight: AP Multimedia Archive

Haven’t tried the AP Multimedia Archive yet?  (Access restricted to current Columbia affiliates.)  Here’s some of what you’re missing…

  • Photographs taken by AP photographers, back to 1844, searchable by caption (try keywords Lincoln funeral car, then click Search)
  • Radio reports (try keyword Hindenburg, click the “Audio” option on the left-hand menu, then click Search)
  • Info-graphics (try keyword nuclear, click the “Graphics PDF” options on the left-hand menu, then click Search)
  • But wait, there’s more!  If you click the “Help” link from the left menu, you can find out how to do special searches of photos, by concept, color, and more…

    Don’t forget, this material is copyrighted to the Associated Press.  If you use it in a school project, credit the AP Multimedia Archive.  And if you want to sell a piece, you must seek clearance from the AP if you are incorporating their work into yours.