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GW Law Library
Research Guides

Copyright Law

About Copyright

"Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of 'original works of authorship' that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. An original work of authorship is a work that is independently created by a human author and possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity. A work is 'fixed' when it is captured (either by or under the authority of an author) in a sufficiently permanent medium such that the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short time. Copyright protection in the United States exists automatically from the moment the original work of authorship is fixed." (From the United States Copyright Office's Copyright Basics.)


Search the Library's catalog (JACOB) to see if a book required for class is on Course Reserve in the Library. Course Reserve materials may be checked out from the Library's Circulation/Reserve Desk for up to two hours.

Study Aids

Search Terms

Potentially useful terms and keywords for searching within library catalogs, databases, and websites for information related to copyright law include:

  • Copyright
  • Copyright Infringement
  • Copyright Licenses
  • Fair Use
  • Original Works of Authorship
  • Public Domain

Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI)

CALI lessons are interactive tutorials written by law professors at CALI member schools. They can be used for studying topics in copyright law, including copyright formalities and duration, secondary liability, and fair use.

Ask a Reference Librarian for the GW Law CALI code.