Research in Copyright Law

Updated June 24, 2008.
Prepared by Jonathan Franklin. Updated by Pegeen Mulhern (2007).

Copyright law is primarily federal law. This research guide focuses on primary and secondary sources of information about United States copyright law. It includes a final section covering primary and secondary sources on foreign and international copyright laws and treaties in English.

This guide is intended to be selective, rather than comprehensive. If you have comments or additions to propose, please send them to Jonathan Franklin.

See also the Gallagher guides on:

Links to BNA, Hein Online, LexisNexis, and Westlaw are restricted to University of Washington faculty, students, and staff and others who have IDs or passwords.

Primary Sources


United States Code, Title 17, Copyright

Pending Legislation

Thomas provides text and status of bills before the U.S. Congress. A new feature permits users to browse legislation by topic. Explore New Features > Current Legislation by Topic > Science and Technology > Intellectual Property.

Legislative Histories
  • United States Code Congressional and Administrative News. KF48 at Reference Area & Westlaw
  • Legislative History of the 1909 Copyright Act. KF2989.54.A15 1976 at Classified Stacks
  • Kaminstein Legislative History Project: A Compendium and Index of Materials Leading Up to the Copyright Act of 1976. KF2989.56.A16K35 at Classified Stacks; KF2989.56.A15K35 1989 Microfiche in binder
  • Copyright Act of 1976: Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History. Not at UW; available via interlibrary loan.
  • Federal Copyright Law: The Legislative Histories of the Major Enactments of the 105th Congress [Digital Millennium Copyright Act, No Electronic Theft Act, Copyright Term Extension Act] KF2988.8 1999 at Classified Stacks
  • Copyright and the GATT: An Interpretation and Legislative History of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act: 1995 Supplement to Copyright Law and Practice. KF2994.P345 1995 at Reference Area
  • LexisNexis: US - CIS Legislative Histories - Copyright Law
  • Westlaw: COPYREV76-LH, General Revision of the Copyright Law, 1976.

For additional resources, see the Gallagher guide on Federal Legislative History.


US Supreme Court

  • U.S. Reports. KF101.A212 at Reference Area & Compact Stacks
  • Supreme Court Reporter. KF101.A322 at Reference Area & Compact Stacks
  • U.S. Reports, Lawyers' Edition. Reference Area & Compact Stacks
  • LexisNexis: Copyright Cases, Federal
  • Westlaw: FIP-SCT

US Courts of Appeals

US District Courts

Topical Reporters

  • CCH Copyright Law Reporter & CCH Copyright Law Decisions. Not available at the Gallagher Law Library in print. LexisNexis and Westlaw using Get and Find respectively
  • United States Patents Quarterly. KF2975.A2U54 at Reference Area. LexisNexis | Westlaw
Case Finding
  • Use annotated codes. USCA and USCS at Reference Area or online.
  • Use West's Federal Practice Digest 4th and its predecessors. KF127.W484 at Reference Area
    Topic: Copyrights and Intellectual Property.
  • Look for cases cited in footnotes in relevant treatise sections and law review articles.
  • Look in the index to American Law Reports--Federal (ALR Fed) to find relevant articles. KF105.A54 at Reference Area. LexisNexis

For more information, see the Gallagher guide on U.S. Administrative Law Research.

Copyright Registrations. LexisNexis: U.S. Copyrights Combined Files

Links to Copyright Office Publications

Secondary Sources


Finding Periodical Articles

Selected Specialized Copyright Periodicals

These titles are available in print and in some cases on LexisNexis, Westlaw, and/or Hein Online. Most journals and law reviews are located in the Reference Area (current issues) and Compact Stacks (older issues, arranged by title).


Finding Books: Use the Law Library's online catalog. The best Subject heading to use is Copyright—United States. It is often helpful to begin with a keyword search (which includes words in the title, government authors, and a few other fields).


  • The Copyright Book: A Practical Guide, 5th ed./ William S. Strong. KF2994.S75 1999 at Reference Area
  • Copyright Law: A Practitioner's Guide / Bruce P. Keller & Jeffrey P. Cunard. KF2994.K345 2001 at Classified Stacks. LexisNexis | Westlaw
  • Copyright Law: Student Study Guide 2002 / Robert C. Lind. KF2995.L56 2002 at Reference Area
  • Copyright Litigation Handbook, 2006. Westlaw
  • Copyright Registration Practice. Westlaw
  • Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright in a Nutshell, 3d ed. / Arthur R. Miller & Michael H. Davis. KF2980.M52 2000 at Reference Area (4th ed. 2006 on order)
  • Understanding Copyright Law, 4th ed. / Marshall A. Leaffer. KF2994.L43 2005 at Reference Area


  • Copyright / Paul Goldstein. KF2994.G65 1996 at Reference Area [with current supplementation] LexisNexis
  • Copyright Law and Practice / William F. Patry. KF2994.P35 1994 at Reference Area [with supplementation through 2000]
  • Copyright Law in Business and Practice / John W. Hazard, Jr. KF2994.H35 1998 at Reference Area [looseleaf with current supplementation] Westlaw
  • Law of Copyright / Howard B. Abrams. Westlaw
  • The Fair Use Privilege in Copyright Law, 2d ed. / William F. Patry. KF3030.1.P37 1995 at Classified Stacks
  • Nimmer on Copyright: A Treatise on the Law of Literary, Musical and Artistic Property, and the Protection of Ideas / Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer. KF2991.5.N5 1978 at Reference Area [looseleaf with current supplementation]. LexisNexis
  • Patry on Copyright / William F. Patry. Available through Summit and Sharelaw catalogs or on Westlaw: PATRYCOPY


Most treatises and general formbooks also include licensing forms.

  • Library of Congress, Copyright Office Forms
  • Computer Law: Drafting and Negotiating Forms and Agreements / Richard Raysman & Peter Brown. KF390.5.C6R3 1984 at Reference Area [looseleaf with current supplementation] Westlaw
  • Computer Software: Protection, Liability, Law, Forms / L.J. Kutten. Westlaw
  • Intellectual Property Licensing: Forms and Analysis (1999- ). Westlaw
  • Kohn on Music Licensing, 3d ed. / Al Kohn & Bob Kohn. KF3035.K64 2000 at Classified Stacks
  • Lindey on Entertainment, Publishing and the Arts: Agreements and the Law, 3d ed. / Alexander Lindey & Michael Landau. KF2992.L5 2004 at Reference Area [looseleaf with current supplementation] Westlaw
  • Multimedia and Technology Licensing Agreements. Westlaw
  • Protecting Trade Secrets, Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks, 3d ed. / Robert C. Dorr & Christopher H. Munch. KF2979.D67 2000 at Classified Stacks

These additional formbooks are not available at the Gallagher Law Library. UW School of Law faculty, students, and staff may request them via interlibrary loan.

  • Computer Software Agreements: Forms and Commentary: with Forms on Disk / Peter C. Quittmeyer (1998- ).
  • Doing Business on the Internet: Forms and Analysis / Julian S. Millstein (1997- ).
  • Multimedia Law: Forms & Analysis / Richard Raysman (1994- ).

How-To Books

  • The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know, 9th ed./ Stephen Fishman. KF2995.F53 2006 at Reference Area
  • Copyright Your Software, 3d ed./ Stephen Fishman. KF3024.C6F57 2001 at Reference Area
  • Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off / Richard Stim. KF3024.C6S75 2000 at Reference Area
  • Patent, Copyright & Trademark, 8th ed. / Richard Stim. KF2980.E44 2006 at Reference Area

See also the Gallagher guide on Information on Obtaining Copyright Permissions.

Books for Fun

  • Code: and Other Laws of Cyberspace / Lawrence Lessig (1999). KF390.5.C6L47 1999 at Classified Stacks
  • Copyright's Highway: From Gutenberg to the Celestial Jukebox, rev. ed. / Paul Goldstein. KF2994.G654 2003 at Reference Area
  • Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet / Jessica Litman. KF3030.1.L58 2001 at Reference Area
  • The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World / Lawrence Lessig. K1401.L47 2001 at Good Reads
  • The Illustrated Story of Copyright / Edward Samuels. KF2994.S26 2000 at Classified Stacks

Online Resources

Commercial Databases

Note: Jon R. Cavicchi, Intellectual Property Research Tools and Strategies: Lexis vs. Westlaw for Research--Better, Different, or Same and the QWERTY Effect?, 47 IDEA 363 (2007).

Top Six Practical Websites Top Five Cool Websites Blogs

Email Discussion Lists & Newsletters

Foreign & International

Primary Sources

For a general discussion of Intellectual Property Research in an international context, see Jonathan Franklin's ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: International Intellectual Property Law.

The major website for international intellectual property law is the site of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Major Treaties

For links to the full text of major copyright treaties in electronic format, see WIPO-Administered Treaties.

  • Berne Convention, 25 United States Treaties 1341. KZ235.3.U55 at Compact Stacks. Hein Online
  • Universal Copyright Convention, 25 United States Treaties 1341. KZ235.3.U55 at Compact Stacks. Hein Online
  • Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms, 25 United States Treaties 309. KZ235.3.U55 at Compact Stacks. Hein Online
  • International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, 496 United Nations Treaty Series 43. KZ172.T74 at Compact Stacks
  • General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (including Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property), 33 International Legal Materials 81. KZ64.I58 at Classified Stacks. Hein Online | LexisNexis
  • LexisNexis: U.S. Treaties on LEXIS

For additional information on finding treaties, see the Gallagher guide on treaties.

European Union Directives, Proposals, and Reports

European Union Directives on Copyright and Related Material from the EU.

For additional information on European Union documents, see the Gallagher guide on European Union Research.

Foreign National Copyright Law
  • Collection of Laws for Electronic Access (CLEA) database from WIPO contains citations and full-text to the intellectual property laws of numerous countries of the world. For an earlier and now dated version of CLEA in print, see Copyright and Related Rights Laws and Treaties/ compiled and published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva. K1420.5.C66 1987 at Reference Area
  • Intellectual Property Rights, compiled and published by the Organization of American States, contains citations and links to intellectual property laws of OAS member states.
  • UNESCO National Copyright Legislation database contains full-text of national legislation related to copyright and neighboring rights laws, which are regularly communicated to UNESCO by its Members States.
  • World Intellectual Property Rights and Remedies / Dennis Campbell, ed. (1999- ) contains summaries of national intellectual property laws written by attorneys as well as translated legislation in volumes 3 & 4. K1401.W675 1999 at Reference Area

For additional information on finding foreign national legislation, see the Gallagher guide on Foreign Law Research.

International Copyright Relations of the United States / Library of Congress, Copyright Office, Circular 38.

Foreign & International Secondary Sources

Selected Books

  • International Copyright and Neighbouring Rights, 2d ed. / Stephen M. Stewart assisted by Hamish Sandison. K1420.5.S83 1989 at Classified Stacks
  • International Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law: Commentary with Special Emphasis on the European Community / Wilhelm Nordemann, Kai Vinck & Paul W. Hertin; English version by Gerald Meyer, based on the translation by R. Livingston. K1420.5.N613 1990 at Classified Stacks
  • International Copyright Law and Practice / Melville B. Nimmer & Paul Edward Geller. K1420.5.I54 1988 at Classified Stacks. LexisNexis
  • International Copyright: Principles, Law, and Practice / Paul Goldstein. K1420.5.G65 2000 at Classified Stacks
  • WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook: Policy, Law and Use. K1401.W5 2001 at Classified Stacks

Selected Journals

  • IIC, International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law (formerly, IIC; International Review of Industrial Property and Copyright Law). Reference area (current issues) & Compact Stacks (older issues)
  • WIPO Magazine. Compact Stacks
  • European Intellectual Property Review. KJE2636.A13E97 at Classified Stacks
  • Intellectual Property News / Linklaters & Alliance. K1401.I58 at Classified Stacks

To find articles on copyright in general foreign and international periodicals, search the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals [UW Restricted] or the same set in print, K33.I46 at Reference Area.

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