Developing Copyright Policy: A Guide for Liberal Arts Colleges

Copyright law is complex and subject to varying interpretations, so developing a campus-wide copyright policy can seem like a daunting task. This guide is designed to help make the process more manageable for deans, librarians, IT staff, faculty, and anyone else charged with developing a copyright policy guide for their liberal arts college. The guide was commissioned and produced by The Oberlin Group of Libraries ( and the Consortium of Liberal Art Colleges ( Contributing editors were Laurie Kumerow and Iris Jastram.

The intent of this guide is not to prescribe exactly what your institutional policy should look like or include, because each college’s needs are
different. Instead, this guide is intended to guide you through the thinking and decisions required to develop a sound policy.

Why a Copyright Policy
Step 1: Philosophical Decisions
Step 2: Ownership Decisions
Step 3: Open Access Decisions
Step 4: Fair Use Decisions
Step 5: Reproduction and Distribution Decisions
Step 6: Performance & Display Decisions
Step 7: ISP Safe Harbor & File Sharing
Step 8: Legal Counsel

Kevin L. Smith, M.L.S., J.D.
William M. Cross M.A., J.D.
May 2010

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