Oklahoma State University
Copyright: Issues & Concerns

The United States Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on October 12, 1998. President Clinton signed it into law in 1999. The new, controversial, and complex legislation governing copyright made major changes to the existing copyright law to address the digitally networked environment. Several important issues, such as database protection and distance education, were either not resolved or addressed in the DMCA, so Congress will be focusing on these issues for quite some time. The impact of the new copyright protection law will be far-reaching for information providers, universities, libraries, researchers, and students.

Copyright is a critical issue for the academic community. We encourage OSU faculty and students to study the current DMCA and the issues and bills before Congress this session. Also, we encourage you to voice your individual concerns to members of Congress. From this site, you can link to other sites where copyright discussions are collected. Listed below are a few recommended resources on copyright.

CNI-Copyright is an open, public electronic forum for discussion of a broad range of copyright and intellectual property related issues.

  1. To subscribe, send a message to: listproc@cni.org
  2. The text of the message should read: subscribe cni-copyright [your name]

Current Bills in Congress

  • Congressional - LexisNexis (formerly Congressional Universe)*: To look at bills, go to 'Bills'. Then click on 'Bills - Search the full text of bills'. Type in 'copyright' as a keyword search term and select the most recent Congress. To look at laws that have been passed, go to 'Laws'. Then click on 'Public Laws - Search the full text of laws from 1988 to present'. Type in 'copyright' as a keyword search term and select the most recent Congress (i.e. 107th Congress).
    * Only accessible from OSU Campus or via EZProxy. (EZProxy Instructions)
  • Search Congressional bills in GPO Access: Select the 'Congressional Bills' option for the most recent Congress. Type the word 'copyright' in the Search Terms box.
  • Thomas: Go to 'Bill Summary & Status' for the most recent Congress. Then do a Word/Phrase search for 'copyright'.

Previous Congresses

Note: The 105th Congress was an important session for copyright/intellectual property issues.

  • Congressional - LexisNexis (formerly Congressional Universe)*: To look at bills, go to 'Bills'. Then click on 'Bills - Search the full text of bills'. Type in 'copyright' as a keyword search term and select a specific Congress. To look at laws that have been passed, go to 'Laws'. Then click on 'Public Laws - Search the full text of laws from 1988 to present'. Type in 'copyright' as a keyword search term and select a specific Congress.
    * Only accessible from OSU Campus or via EZProxy. (EZProxy Instructions)
  • Search Congressional bills in GPO Access: Select the 'Congressional Bills' option for the Congress you wish to search. Type the word 'copyright' in the Search Terms box.
  • Thomas: Under 'Bill Summary & Status', click 'Previous'. Go to 'Bill Summary' and click on the Congress you wish to search. Then do a Word/Phrase search for 'copyright'.

Studies and Proposals

Several academic and professional organizations have issued studies and proposals relative to copyright. Some of those are:

Copyright Overview

Under the current law a book owner or library borrower can do the following:

  • make fair use copies
  • distribute an owned copy (lend it, sell it or give it away)
  • display/perform limited portions in face-to-face teaching/broadcasts

In addition, libraries can do the following:

  • make an archive copy of lost, damaged or deteriorating materials
  • participate in interlibrary loan

Beyond these allowable uses, a book owner must get permission from the copyright owner.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) delicately balances the rights of authors, publishers, and other copyright owners with society's need for the free exchange of ideas. The discussions and arguments that continue even after the passage of the DMCA revolve around the question of how the principles in the current act are applicable to the digital environment. One of the most sensitive areas is that of distance education. As the digital realm expands, it becomes harder to balance individual users' rights with those of publishers, database producers, the entertainment industry and software media producers.

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