Glossary created by Berkman Center team

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Academic Exception

Academic exception is the exception for teachers and academics to the general rule that employers hold copyright in the creative works produced by their employees in the course of their employment.

Unlike the a work-for-hire situtation, academics typically retain the copyrights in the scholarly work they produce, and may retain, sell or assign those copyrights, or dedicate them to the public domain, at their discretion.

See also:

  • Work-For-Hire
  • Open Access

Other resources:

American Library Association (“ALA”) Code of Ethics

The voluntary code of ethics adopted by the American Library Association to govern the work of librarians.

The code makes “known to the profession and to the general public the ethical principles that guide the work of librarians, other professionals providing information services, library trustees and library staffs.” Its tenets “provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations.”

Other resources:

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (“ACTA”) Proposal (2007)

A proposed multi-lateral trade agreement that is designed to better enforce intellectual property rights by combating the perceived increasing threat of counterfeiting.

This counterfeiting in question can be of physical goods and copyrighted works, as well as digital and Internet-based materials and technologies. Specific details of the Agreement’s content are still mostly a secret, and some countries, including the United States, restrict access to it on the basis of national security. The Agreement is generally understood to supersede or bypass UN, WIPO and TRIPS guidelines, and would, among other things, make all peer-to-peer filesharing illegal, regardless of content.

Other resources:


The means by which ownership of a copyright is transferred to another person or entity.

For example, musicians often assign the copyright to their music to their publisher or record company as part of their contract, although this is not a requirement.

Other resources:


The original creator of a work.

While the word “author” is used in common vernacular to identify the person who wrote something, such as a book, paper, or article, the term "author" is used in copyright law to identify the creator of any work. Thus, a sculptor, artist or photographer would be considered the "author" of his or her work.

If a copyright is assigned or transferred to a second person or entity, that person does not become the author, merely the new rights-holder. The original author always retains that status or description, and in some legal regimes, has certain rights that cannot be assigned, altered, or renounced.

In countries that recognize the work-for-hire doctrine, the employer can be considered the "author" of the work.

See also:

  • Moral Rights
  • Right of Integrity
  • Right of Withdrawal
  • Right of Attribution