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Copyright Law FAQ (5/6): Further copyright resources

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Archive-name: law/Copyright-FAQ/part5

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Part 5 - Further copyright resources.

Copyright 1994 Terry Carroll
(c) 1994 Terry Carroll

Last update: January 6, 1994.

This article is the fifth in a series of six articles that contains 
frequently asked questions (FAQ) with answers relating to copyright law, 
particularly that of the United States.  It is posted to the Usenet,,, comp.patents, 
misc.answers, comp.answers, and news.answers newsgroups monthly, on or 
near the 17th of each month.

This FAQ is available for anonymous FTP from [], 
in directory /pub/usenet/news.answers/law/Copyright-FAQ, files part1 - 
part6.  If you do not have direct access by FTP, you can obtain a copy 
via email: send a message to with the following 
lines in it:

  send usenet/news.answers/law/Copyright-FAQ/part1
  send usenet/news.answers/law/Copyright-FAQ/part2
  send usenet/news.answers/law/Copyright-FAQ/part3
  send usenet/news.answers/law/Copyright-FAQ/part4
  send usenet/news.answers/law/Copyright-FAQ/part5
  send usenet/news.answers/law/Copyright-FAQ/part6


This article is Copyright 1994 by Terry Carroll.  It may be freely 
redistributed in its entirety provided that this copyright notice is not 
removed.  It may not be sold for profit or incorporated in commercial 
documents without the written permission of the copyright holder.  
Permission is expressly granted for this document to be made available 
for file transfer from installations offering unrestricted anonymous file 
transfer on the Internet.  Permission is further granted for this 
document to be made available for file transfer in the data libraries of 
associated with the following Compuserve Information Services fora: the 
Legal Forum, the Desktop Publishing Forum, the Show Business Forum, and 
the Ideas, Invention & Innovation Forum.  This article is provided as is 
without any express or implied warranty.  Nothing in this article 
represents the views of Santa Clara University or of the Santa Clara 
Computer and High Technology Law Journal.

While all information in this article is believed to be correct at the 
time of writing, this article is for educational purposes only and does 
not purport to provide legal advice.  If you require legal advice, you 
should consult with a legal practitioner licensed to practice in your 

Terry Carroll, the FAQ-maintainer, is a computer professional, and is 
currently (January 1994) a student in his final semester at Santa Clara 
University School of Law, is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Santa Clara 
Computer and High Technology Law Journal, and is seeking employment as an 

If you have any additions, corrections, or suggestions for improvement to 
this FAQ, please send them to one of the following addresses, in order of 

I will accept suggestions for questions to be added to the FAQ, but 
please be aware that I will be more receptive to questions that are 
accompanied by answers.  :-)


The following table indicates the contents of each of the parts of the 

  Part 1 - Introduction (including full table of contents).
  Part 2 - Copyright basics.
  Part 3 - Common miscellaneous questions.
  Part 4 - International aspects.
  Part 5 - Further copyright resources.
  Part 6 - Appendix: A note about legal citation form, or, "What's
           all this '17 U.S.C. 107' and '977 F.2d 1510' stuff?"

TABLE OF CONTENTS (for this part).

Part 5 - Further copyright resources.

5.1) Where can I get more information on copyright?
5.2) What materials related to copyright are available on the

5.1) Where can I get more information on copyright?

The U.S. Copyright Office General Information Package 118 provides 
general information on copyright law.  Copyright Office Circular 2, 
"Publications on Copyright," provides a complete list of publications 
relating to copyright which are available from the Copyright Office.

These materials and many others may be ordered (generally free of charge) 
by calling the Copyright Office Hotline at 202-707-9100 and leaving a 
voice mail message.  Call the Hotline only if you already know the number 
of the publication you want.  If you don't know the publication number, 
the Copyright Office maintains a prerecorded information line at 202-707-
3000.  This line provides an automatic voice mail attendant that provides 
information according to responses presented from a touch-tone keypad.  
Much of the information in section 2.6 was obtained from this information 

The book "Intellectual Property in a Nutshell," by Arthur R. Miller of 
Harvard Law School and Michael H. Davis of Cleveland-Marshall College of 
Law (West Publishing, 1990, ISBN 0-314-75738-4), provides a fine 
introduction not only to copyright law, but also to patent and trademark 
law.  It's typically available from college or law school bookstores for 
about $15.

The authoritative secondary source for information on copyright is the 
five-volume loose-leaf opus, "Nimmer on Copyright."  Originally written 
and maintained by the late Professor Melville Nimmer and now maintained 
by his son, David Nimmer, this is the most respected source of copyright 
information, short of the texts of the statutes, regulations, and cases 
themselves.  Nimmer is frequently cited by courts, including the U.S. 
Supreme Court, as an authority to justify their opinions.  I've been 
surprised to find short essays on even the most obscure copyright 
questions (e.g., whether a food recipe is subject to copyright).  I 
heartily recommend it as an initial source for research.  It is, however, 
a bit dense for casual reading.

Several readers have recommended L. Ray Patterson & Stanley W. Lindberg, 
"The Nature Of Copyright" (1991), ISBNs 0-8203-1362-9 (paperback) and 0-
8203-1347-5 (hardback).  Patterson and Stanley reportedly argue for a 
broad interpretation of a user's rights in a work, and a more narrow 
interpretation of the right of the copyright holder.  Be aware that this 
interpretation may or may not match the law of your jurisdiction.

In preparing this FAQ, I consulted the casebook that was used in my 
Copyright class in Fall of 1991 at Santa Clara University School of Law: 
Joyce, Patry, Leaffer and Jaszi, "Copyright Law, Second Edition" (1991), 
ISBN 0-8205-0115-8.  Like most casebooks, it contains edited versions of 
most of the landmark decisions in the law, including most of the cases 
that are cited in this FAQ.  It's not for beginners, but it's well-
written, and often contains illustrations of the works being discussed in 
the cases (a very useful feature, since copyright questions often turn on 
questions of similarity or originality that can only be determined by 
seeing the work).  The book's best features are a good review of the 
history of copyright, an excellent description of the international 
treaties covering copyright, and a detailed bibliography at the end of 
each chapter.  An unfortunate feature is the index, which is not the best 
organized, and often provides incorrect page numbers (perhaps because of 
the editors' hurry to include the Feist case that had been decided only a 
few months before the book was in stores).

Nolo Press publishes two books on copyright for the lay reader: "The 
Copyright Handbook: How to Protect and Use Written Works," by Stephen 
Fishman, ISBN 0-87337-130-5 ($24.95) and "How to Copyright Software," by 
M.J. Salone, ISBN 0-87337-102-X ($39.95).  My knowledge of these books is 
limited to the entries in the catalog, but Nolo Press generally enjoys an 
excellent reputation for publishing accurate and understandable books on 
law.  Nolo's telephone number is (510) 549-1976.

5.2) What materials related to copyright are available on the Internet?

The following is a list of materials relating to copyright that I have 
been able to verify are available on the Internet.



Most portions of the current copyright law have been made available by 
Cornell University.  To review the statute, enter the command

  telnet 8210

and sign on with a user ID of "www."  No password is necessary.  This 
will allow you to use the World Wide Web software to navigate the 
copyright law.  It also includes access to the Berne Convention.



The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy maintains the Multilaterals 
Project, an anonymous ftp site with a number of multilateral treaties, at  This archive includes versions of both the Berne 
Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention.  The treaties are in 
directory /pub/diplomacy.  The following files are of particular 

  README - A one-page description of the Multilaterals Project, by Peter 
Stott, its director.

  INDEX - An index of all the treaties and other documents available from 
the project.

  BH006-1971.txt - The 1971 Paris text of the Berne Convention for the 
Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

  UNTS11850.txt - The 1967 Stockholm text of the Berne Convention for the 
Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.  The United States is not a 
party to the this text.

  UNTS13444.txt - The 1971 Paris text of the Universal Copyright 

In addition, The Berne Convention may also be viewed via telnet to as noted above, under "STATUTES."



The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) sponsors CNI-Copyright, an 
Internet mailing list devoted to copyright issues.  To join, send a 
message to LISTSERV@CNI.ORG with a single line of text in the body that 


If that doesn't work, send a message to CRAIG@CNI.ORG (Craig Summerhill) 
and ask him to manually add you to the list.  After joining, messages may 
be sent to the list at CNI-COPYRIGHT@CNI.ORG.

Archives of the CNI-COPYRIGHT list are available and may be searched 
online via telnet.  To access them, telnet to, login with the 
ID "brsuser" (no password is required), and follow the instructions 
presented.  CNI-COPYRIGHT archives are in the COPY database.

CNI is a not for profit corporation and is a joint project of the 
Association of Research Libraries (ARL), CAUSE, and EDUCOM.  It promotes 
the creation of and access to information resources in networked 
environments in order to enrich scholarship and to enhance intellectual 


FTP site ( has a repository, /pub/, 
for files related to photography.  Among the files contained in this 
directory is the Copyright Guide For Photographers, produced by the 
American Society of Media Photographers, Inc.  While the Guide is 
particularly oriented towards photographers, much of the information it 
provides will be of use to anyone interested in copyright.  The file 
asmp-copyright-guide is an ASCII version of this document.  A TeX version 
is also available, in asmp-copyright-TeX.tar.z.


There are several newsgroups that from time to time discuss copyright 
issues. the main newsgroup covering legal issues, including copyright 
law. A moderated analog to, but moderated, 
and probably with a higher signal-to-noise ratio as a result. Discussions of intellectual property; copyright, 
patent, trademark and trade secrecy, and their alternatives. Legal issues related to computers.  Copyright and 
patent issues predominate.

comp.patents: Moderated newsgroup discussing issues related to computers 
and patents, including software patents.  The newsgroup is moderated by (Peter Treloar).  Please note that the focus 
of this group is more on patent law than copyright law. Trends, practices, and techniques in software 

gnu.misc.discuss: Discussions in this group frequently include issues of 
software patents, copyright, and "copyleft."

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

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