Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that exist in a fixed and tangible form. Most manuscripts, sound recordings, and other archival items in our collections (except for public records held in the University Archives) are protected under United States Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code).
Under the doctrine of fair use, there are various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered "fair," such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Four factors are considered in determining whether or not a particular use qualifies as "fair":
Note that the distinction between "fair use" and infringement is not easily defined. For example, there is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be used without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission from the copyright holder.
In most cases, the Library does not own the intellectual rights to materials in its collections. Copyright status and information about copyright holders for manuscripts and archival materials may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Whenever possible, the Manuscripts Department will provide information about copyright owners and restrictions. The Department provides this information as a service to aid researchers in determining the appropriate use of an item, but that determination ultimately rests with the researcher.
If you reproduce materials held in the Manuscripts Department on the Internet, you must include the following disclaimer:
Please also see How to Cite Materials, and always cite materials accurately.