Copyright Tools

Copyright tools can help libraries and others to be more comfortable with their work to interpret the limitations and exceptions to the exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder under U.S. Copyright law. By exercising these valuable exceptions, we strengthen copyright’s primary purpose "to promote the progress of science and useful arts."

Over the past several years, ALA has developed tools to educate libraries, librarians, and others about copyright. These tools – the Public Domain Slider, the Section 108 Spinner, the Fair Use Evaluator, and the Exceptions for Instructors eTool – are all available online for anyone to use.

Public Domain Slider

The Public Domain Slider is a tool to help determine the copyright status of a work that is first published in the U.S. Most of us know that any work published before 1923 is in the public domain, but the copyright status for copyrighted works after 1923 can be difficult to determine. There are many works in the public domain that have been published after 1923 because registration was not renewed and/or the copyright symbol – © – does not appear on the work. If a work is in the public domain, you are free to use that work in any way that you choose – digitize it, re-publish it, post it on the web etc. with appropriate attribution. For those works that are still protected by copyright, don’t forget to consider fair use to determine if the work can be used in other more limited ways.

Section 108 Spinner

This simple tool can help you determine whether or not a particular reproduction is covered by this exemption. Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Code allows libraries & archives, under certain circumstances, to make reproductions of copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder.

Exceptions for Instructors eTool

If you have feedback or ideas for future development or upgrades to the tools, please contact Carrie Russell:

The Exceptions for Instructors eTool guides users through the educational exceptions in U.S. copyright law, helping to explain and clarify rights and responsibilities for the performance and display of copyrighted content in traditional, distance and blended educational models.

Tool Modification

  • The Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike license allows you to modify and use these tool under specific circumstances:
  • The Digital Slider Public Domain tool and the Section 108 Spinner each use Adobe Flash. It is recommended that institutions only modify the contact information and copyright resources links notes (details on how to make these changes/additions are given in a readme.txt file provided with the tools).
  • The Exceptions for Instructors eTool and the Fair Use Evaluator use HTML, CSS, and PHP. They are fully configurable, though only specific areas of the tools should be modified, in order to ensure they remain faithful to the law.
  • All of the tools need only to be mounted on a server; they require no other specialized hardware, software,or maintenance.
  • In order to keep track of how much these tools are used, we would appreciate it if you maintained our Google Analytics tag in the headers. This helps us know how many users we are reaching and how they are finding our tools.
  • Please do not remove any of the disclaimer information or information that qualifies any of the uses or text provided in the tools.