The World Wide Web and its related technologies have opened up new avenues for creativity, distribution, revenue. As technology has opened more avenues, so too has it opened the door to greed. Copyright owners have lobbied for — and received — increasingly restrictive legislation and technologies that keeps lawful consumers from doing what copyright law allows them to do. On the other hand, many others have stolen creative works without paying fair compensation, while errantly claiming privileges under fair use and first sale doctrines.
Now, due to the debates spawned by the prominent role of digital works in American society, copyright is no longer a legal backwater. Copyright law and policy issues — often involving the high-profile entertainment industries — are routinely covered on the front pages of the nation's major newspapers. Further, the number of treatises, books, and websites that purport to give "expert" information about copyright law has exploded.
Beyond the debate lies a set of print and electronic materials that explain what copyright law is and how it works, and put the topic and its policy in their proper perspective. This research guide identifies those resources for librarians and other researchers.