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When and Where
  • 10/19/2023 11:00 AM CDT
  • 10/20/2023 7:00 PM CDT
  • 9/19/2023 11:45 PM CDT
  • The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Lied Library, UNLV Campus
  • Las Vegas
  • NV
  • William Maher

This in-person course will run two days---October 19-20, 2023, (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. U.S. local time (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. U.S. central time)) in Las Vegas, Nevada,

COPYRIGHT! Does the very word send you running for cover? Afraid you’ll crash on its rocky shoals? Undoubtedly, its many rules can seem onerous, but like death and taxes, copyright is unavoidable for archivists. So, what’s an archivist to do when even a moderate adherence to copyright’s provisions seem to inhibit such basic archival work as preservation, reference service, and digitization for public access? Are you afraid that a wrong decision might land your repository in court? How can you help an institution back you up if that happens?

This two-day workshop combines a detailed look at copyright basics with a risk-management approach for archivists to use in assessing their own collections and institutional circumstances. The instructor will help demystify the law and show where there’s room to maneuver by explaining the law’s interrelated facets The workshop will lead attendees in reading core parts of the law and in applying basic tools to address archives-specific issues. Attendees will learn what existing exceptions and limitations are available for archival administration and use. The workshop’s goal is to enable archivists to fulfill their fundamental purpose—achieving as wide a use as possible of their collections.

Upon completion of this course, you'll be able to:

  • Be comfortable when you need to read the copyright law or review the Copyright Office’s publications and issuances.
  • Recognize the complex intellectual property issues relating to authors’, owners’, and users’ rights.
  • Be grounded in the historical rationale for copyright law, as evolved through major legislative and judicial developments.
  • Understand the relevance of U.S. federal law to archives and manuscript collections.
  • Examine the current law including recent court cases, especially those raising new questions about how much we can rely on fair use.
  • Determine the sequence of decision-making steps needed to manage copyright issues and risks.

Who Should Attend? Archivists and other professionals who have copyright concerns. Participants are invited to submit repository-specific questions related to copyright, for special attention, up to two weeks prior to the workshop start date.

What You Should Already Know: Patience to read and decipher complex legal text. General understanding or experience in archival reference service methods, acquisition, and processing practices. Experience with modern archives or manuscript collections.

Instructor bio:

William Maher was named University Archivist emeritus and Professor of Library Administration in 2023 after holding that position at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 1995 to 2022. He was Assistant University Archivist at UIUC from 1977 through 1995. During a 1985-86 leave, he served as Program Officer related to library and archives projects at the National Endowment for the Humanities (1985-86). He has been Vice-President / President (1996-97 / 1997/98) and Treasurer (1991-94) of the Society of American Archivists (SAA); and President and Secretary-Treasurer of the Midwest Archives Conference. In the International Council on Archives (ICA), he was a member of the Executive Board of 2011-18 and Chair (2010-18) of the ICA’s Section on the Archives of Universities and Research Institutions. He holds degrees from Case Western Reserve University, Washington University, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As the author of one book and 28 articles, he is a regular speaker on archives and history, cultural heritage, university archival administration, and copyright law. Since 2000 he has regularly taught SAA’s one-day and two-day workshops on Copyright Law for Archivists. Since 2011, Maher has served as the Head of Delegation to represent SAA at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Fees: Advance / Regular 

SAA Members: $359 / $419

Employees of SAA Member Institutions: $439 / $509

Nonmembers: $509 / $599


When participants were asked “what aspect of the course methods/materials was most valuable to you?” responses included:

  • “Excellent workshop! He does a wonderful job of clarifying a complex topic and making it a pleasant learning experience. Very positive approach and excellent presentation style. I feel much more able to address copyright issues as a result of this workshop.” — Lisa Thompson
  • “I learned so many things in this workshop! All my questions were answered very well. I feel I am returning to work with so much more knowledge.” — Miranda Burton
  • “This sounds like a late night infomercial but really—I never thought copyright law could be interesting! Complex, frustrating, scary, yes, but so well presented and explained in this class. I've sat through numerous workshops and webinars on the topic, but this is the first time I've felt like I understand well enough to make a difference in my work.”
  • "William J. Maher brings to archivists a lifetime of study, practical application, and personal interest in copyright law. Advocating a risk assessment approach, Maher helps build confidence within those managing the seemingly impossible copyright landscape found in the materials of libraries, archives, and museums."
  • "Copyright is an important part of archives management and this course gives copyright the attention it deserves! The best SAA course I've taken."
  • "This class is a must-have for anyone that deals with copyright issues on a regular basis whether they serve in a frontfacing or back of the house position."