Author ORCID Identifier

Kyle K. Courtney:

Emily Kilcer:

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Today librarians and other information professionals regularly intersect with intellectual property law. As our work increasingly encompasses copyright-intensive programs and projects (e.g., digitization, scholarly publishing, open access, streaming media, MOOCs, and more), questions about fair use, public domain, and copyright law invariably emerge. Libraries occupy a liminal space, they both serve knowledge creation and information access and enjoy special privileges under copyright law.

Unfortunately, comprehensive copyright training is still not a pillar of LIS programs,1 and while there are seminal resources to look to and professional development opportunities to explore (e.g., MOOCs, copyright bootcamps, or one-offs at conferences), this sort of support may feel ephemeral or once removed. In response, Copyright First Responders (CFR) training is designed to create a network of local copyright experts who can support each other in efforts to provide thoughtful and responsive copyright support to their community.

Over the last six years, the CFR program has extended from its origins at Harvard Library to Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. Does training copyright experts reasonably reduce risk for an institution? How does the CFR curriculum fill a well-documented gap in information professional training and help drive the learning experiences that become the backbone of local services? How does the CFR’s decentralized hub-and-spoke model best serve the interest of these participating institutions?

Here we will explore the structure underpinning the CFR program and share how it aims to reduce risk and provide mission-critical expertise in libraries and archives.


This edited book chapter is made openly available:

Courtney, K. K., & Kilcer, E. (2023). Copyright First Responders: Decentralized expertise, cultural institutions, and risk. In M. Bonn, J. Block & W. Cross (Eds.), Scholarly communication librarianship and open knowledge. ACRL., open access edition available at

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



Rights Statement

In Copyright

Terms of Use

This work is made available under the Scholars Archive Terms of Use.