Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects expressions of an idea in a tangible form, such as:  literary works, including computer software; musical works, including any accompanying words; dramatic works, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings, and architectural works.

According to the the Association of Research Libraries' Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, "fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances, especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant.  It is a general right that applies even - and especially - in situations where the law provides no specific statutory auhtorization for the use in question."

Below you will find useful information about copyright from a variety of sources, and fair use best practice documents developed by scholarly societies and professional organizations.


United States Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office offers a wealth of information on copyright for authors, including current copyright law, information on registering copyright. (Note: registration is NOT required to establish copyright, but may affect the author’s ability to claim damages in the event of copyright infringement.)


The site contains basic copyright information; information on copyright ownership and using copyrighted information, as well as access to campus, systemwide, and external information.

UCSB Technology & Industry Alliances Copyright Page

Includes UCSB copyright contact information.

UCSB Library Copyright & Fair Use Guide

This guide contains definitions of copyright and fair use, and links to numerous resources for authors and users of copyrighted materials.

UC Office of Scholarly Communication: Manage Your Intellectual Property

Advice to UC authors and editors on copyright practices to enhance scholarly communication.

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons organization provides a variety of legal licenses that enable an author or other copyright holder to grant permission for various types of use of the copyrighted work (including reproduction or derivative works), without fully relinquishing the work to the public domain.  Creative Commons also provides tools for releasing a work to the public domain.

Science Commons: Scholar’s Copyright Project

Science Commons is a project growing out of the life sciences, dedicated to encouraging the free and open sharing of data and publications.  Among other resources, this website offers an “Addendum Engine” for generating a signature-ready legal addendum for authors to use when submitting material to publishers who otherwise require full transfer of copyright.

Fair Use

Fair use best practices developed by scholarly societies and professional associations.

Association of Research Libraries Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries

Best Practices in the Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials in Music Scholarship (American Musicological Society)

Society for Cinema and Media Studies: Statement of Fair Use Best Practices for Media Studies Publishing

Visual Resources Association: Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study

 Additional Resources and Information

Authors Alliance:  Established May 2014, the Authors Alliance promotes authorship for the public good, by assisting authors who wish to disseminate knowledge and products of creativity as widely as possible.  The Alliance's Board of Directors is comprised of four UC Berkeley professors, including the Universtity Librarian. (