The Importance of Learning the Difference Between Copyright and Wrong

Empowering Programs to Teach Copyright Education




open education resources, copyright, LIS curriculum, legal issues, core competencies


Copyright impacts all aspects of librarianship and most aspects of the wider information professions, yet courses that specifically address the legal rights and limitations of U.S. Federal Copyright law are not well represented in Library and Information Science (LIS) curriculum (Cross & Edwards, 2011; Schmidt & English, 2015). Studies have found a lack of copyright familiarity let alone literacy among librarians and LIS students surrounding many important copyright topics regarding open licensing, orphan works, and digital institutional repositories (Estell & Saunders, 2016; Saunders & Estell, 2019). The recent update to ALA’s Core Competencies has added additional copyright focused language to note that librarians should have foundational skills to “Understand the legal framework in which libraries operate, including laws relating to copyright and fair use…” (ALA, 2023). The need for this material is quite clear and yet many library and LIS programs have not addressed this notable gap in their curriculum.

This panel of copyright experts, researchers, and course instructors is designed to help identify the roadblocks that have led to a dearth of copyright focused courses, and to opportunities for change using existing resources. The aim of this panel is to inspire all in attendance to work with in their institutions to advocate for more copyright focused instruction throughout LIS.

The panel will consist of five brief five-minute talks from all panelists followed by a moderated discussion with the audience to map out the limitations and opportunities of copyright education for already existing LIS curriculum. The panel will close with a presentation of resources that can be used to improve copyright education including open educational resources and other no-cost material. Closing the session, the panelists will ask audience members to share their contact information, to provide continued support in bringing curricula change to their home programs or departments. We hope this panel will help create a community around this topic and become a regular topic at ALISE and similar conferences.

Author Biographies

  • Sara Benson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    Sara Benson is the copyright librarian and an associate professor at the Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before becoming a practicing librarian, she acquired her JD and taught at the University of Illinois College of Law.

  • Siyao Cheng, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    Siyao Cheng is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois iSchool and focuses on copyright education and information-seeking behavior. Her current research is on how copyright legal frameworks are not applicable to Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs) materials management within a library setting.

  • Laura Saunders, Simmons College

    Laura Saunders is a Professor at Simmons University School of Library and Information Science.

  • Tomas Lipinski, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

    Professor Lipinski is the former Dean of the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. After Leave in the 2020/2021 AY he returned to faculty status as Full Professor. He completed his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Marquette University Law School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, received the Master of Laws (LL.M.) from The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois, and the Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Lipinski has worked in a variety of legal settings including the private, public and non-profit sectors. He has authored numerous helpful legal resources including the books, Copyright Law in the Distance Education Classroom (2005), The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook for Librarians and Educators (2006), and The Librarians Legal Companion for Licensing Information Resources and Services (2012).


ALA. (2023, January 28). ALAs Core Competencies of Librarianship.

Benson, S. R., & Ocepek, M. (2021). Information Science Students’ Emotional Response to Copyright. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, e20200086.

Cross, W. M., & Edwards, P. M. (2011). Preservice Legal Education for Academic Librarians within ALA-Accredited Degree Programs. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 11(1), 533–550.

Estell, A., & Saunders, L.(2016). Librarian Copyright Literacy: Self-Reported Copyright Knowledge Among Information Professionals in the United States. Public Services Quarterly, 12(3), 214–227.

Saunders, L., & Estell, A. N. (2019). Copyright Literacy of Library and Information Science Students in the United States. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 60(4), 329–353.

Schmidt, L., & English, M. (2015). Copyright Instruction in LIS Programs: Report of a Survey of Standards in the U.S.A. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(6), 736–743.






Panels (Juried)