The knowledge on the influence of surface roughness and the electron-phonon (el-ph) interaction on electrical transport properties of nanoscale metal films is important from both fundamental and technological points of view. Here we report a study of the temperature dependent electron transport properties of nanoscale copper films by measuring temperature dependent electrical resistivity with thickness ranging from 4 to 500 nm. We show that the residual resistivity, which is temperature independent, can be described quantitatively using both measured vertical surface root-mean-square roughness and lateral correlation length in the nanoscale, with no adjustable parameter, by a recent quasi-classical model developed by Chatterjee and Meyerovich (2010 Phys. Rev. B 81 245409-10). We also demonstrate that the temperature dependent component of the resistivity can be described using the Bloch-Grüneisen equation with a thickness dependent el-ph coupling constant and a thickness dependent Debye temperature. We show that the increase of the el-ph coupling constant with the decrease of film thickness gives rise to an enhancement of the temperature dependent component of the resistivity.