A Guide to Law

Legal guides explain a wide variety of legal issues in simple terms. They are written by attorneys and are designed to help people understand a legal topic.

Law is complex, and it is not possible for a layperson to understand every aspect of it. However, a basic understanding of some of the key topics can help people avoid problems.

The Digital Media Law Project (DMLP) created this guide to address some of the most important legal questions for those involved in creating citizen media. While the DMLP cannot offer individualized legal advice, this guide provides an introduction to common legal issues for those not familiar with them, and links to sources that can provide further information.

When an externship issue presents itself from another jurisdiction, librarians need to be able to familiarize themselves with the law of the jurisdiction as quickly as possible in order to conduct proper research on the question. This guide aggregates and offers a portal to information that is available online from many different jurisdictions.

This research guide is co-owned by Jennifer Allison and Catherine Biondo, both of the Harvard Law Library. In compiling it, emphasis was placed on sites that offer the full texts of laws, regulations, and court decisions, along with commentary from lawyers writing primarily for other lawyers. However, a number of non-lawyer-written secondary sources are also included.

This guide is updated regularly, but since laws change rapidly, the DMLP makes no claim that it is comprehensive or current. If you have a specific legal question, you should consult an attorney who practices in your jurisdiction.

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