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Duplication & Permission Services at The Bancroft Library: Copyright Services

A guide to the duplication and permission services available at The Bancroft Library, including information on how to request these services and a list of frequently asked questions.

Copyright Services

The University of California Regents (UC Regents) do not hold the copyright to the majority of the materials held in the collection of The Bancroft Library. When copyright is not held by the UC Regents, no permission for publication/use from the Library is required or given.  If you intend to publish any material found in the collection of the Library that is still protected by copyright, and you determine that your use exceeds "fair use," you are required to obtain permission from the copyright holder.  More information about determining copyright status, fair use, and other legal restrictions that may apply can be found below.

The Copyright & Information Policy Specialist can perform a search of the Library's files on the requested material to establish if the UC Regents hold the copyright to the material, or if there is any information about the current copyright holder that can be shared, by emailing information about your requested material to schol-comm@berkeley.edu.  University of California employees cannot offer legal advice (e.g. whether or not your use would constitute "fair use") or make a legal determination beyond if the material is © UC Regents.  Any further research into copyright and other legal restrictions that may apply is your responsibility and you are solely responsible for complying with all applicable laws. 

Determining Whether Your Intended Use Is "Fair Use"

You do not need a copyright holder’s permission to publish when the intended use is "fair use" because United States copyright law contains a limited exception for certain uses such as teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and news reporting. It is your responsibility to determine whether the intended use is a fair use. The UC Berkeley Library cannot make a fair use determination for you.

Evaluating fair use is done on a case-by-case basis for each work that you use, and rests on the following four factors. When considering these factors, keep in mind that the fair use exception is purposefully broad and flexible to promote academic freedom, expression, education, and debate.  The four factors are a balancing test, each may push you in one direction or the other, but it is the sum of all four factors that will help you to determine if your use is considered fair.

Fair Use Factor Tip for Applying the Factor
The purpose and character of the use, including whether the intended use is commercial vs. for nonprofit educational purposes. Uses in nonprofit educational institutions are more likely to be fair use than works used for commercial purposes.
The nature of the copyrighted work. Distributing factual works is more likely to be fair use than doing so with creative, artistic works such as musical compositions.
The amount and significance of the portion used in relation to the entire work. Copying smaller portions of a work is more likely to be fair use than larger portions.
The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the original. Uses that have no or little market impact on the copyrighted work are more likely to be fair.

The following questions can help you weigh the outcome of those four factors:

  • Are you planning on using the work in a different way, or for a different purpose, than the original creator?  In copyright terms, is your use “transformative”?
  • Are you using an amount of that work that is narrowly-tailored to your new purpose?
  • Would someone be likely to use your work instead of purchasing the original?

For guidelines on what uses qualify for the fair use exception, please see:

Other Laws & Restrictions

Please keep in mind that there are several laws and policies outside of copyright that also affect publication permission.

  • Gift or Donor Agreements: requests to publish archival and other special collections materials stewarded by The Bancroft Library may be subject to gift or donor agreement limitations. The Library reserves all rights to grant and deny permission request inquiries based on these limitations.
  • Privacy & Publicity Rightsyou must also comply with applicable federal and state privacy and publicity laws when publishing certain materials. While copyright laws protect the copyright owner’s property rights in the work, privacy and publicity laws protect the interests of the individuals who are the subject of the work. In general, a person’s right to privacy ends with his or her death, but publicity rights associated with the commercial value of that person’s name, image, or likeness may continue after death. It is your sole responsibility for addressing issues of privacy and publicity rights when publishing content from Library materials. For more information on privacy & publicity laws and rights, see the Digital Media Law Project page on privacy and publicity.

Guidance on Determining Copyright Status & Locating Copyright Holders

  • Public Domain: refers to works for which copyright protections have expired, or works that were ineligible for protection from the start. Public domain works are open for use with no permission needed. The Library will not make public domain determinations for researchers. For assistance in determining whether a work is in the public domain, the UC Office of the President has provided helpful general rules of thumb in its Public Domain guide. For more detailed inquiries, we recommend using Cornell's chart, Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States, in combination with the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database.  The American Library Association offers many tools to help you understand the various stages and vagaries of copyright on their Copyright Tools website.  These tools include a Public Domain Slider to help determine the copyright status of a work that was first published in the United States, a Fair Use Evaluator to help users understand how to determine if the use of a protected work is a “fair use,” and many others.
  • Finding Copyright Holders: for help locating third-party copyright holder(s), the following resources may assist your investigation:
    • WATCH File: The WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) is a database containing primarily the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.
    • U.S. Copyright Office: You can search a public database at the U.S. Copyright Office for copyright information on all works registered with the U.S. Copyright Office after January 1, 1978.
    • The Artists Rights Society represents over 80,000 visual artists and their estates.  If you are searching for the copyright holder for pictorial works, this is a good place to start.
    • For materials to which third parties hold copyright but the physical copies are stewarded by The Bancroft Library, you may also contact Copyright & Information Policy Specialist Michael Lange (mlange@berkeley.edu) to determine whether the Library has any information about the potential copyright holder. The Library makes no representations about the accuracy or completeness of copyright ownership information in its collections.
    • If you are unable to identify or locate the current copyright owner of a copyrighted work, the copyrighted materials may be called an "orphan work." Columbia University Libraries and the Society of American Archivists provide information on documenting your effort to search for copyright owners and potentially using orphan works.

Scholarly Communication Services

OA lockScholarly Communication Services can help you with all your scholarly communication and publishing questions and needs.  Visit their website, or reach out to schol-comm@berkeley.edu for help with questions on topics, including:
  • Copyright in research, publishing & teaching
  • Authors’ rights, and protecting & managing your intellectual property
  • Scholarly publishing options and platforms
  • Open access for scholarship and research data
  • Tracking & increasing scholarly impact
  • Affordable and open course content 
Scholarly Communication Services provides the following services:
  • Individualized support & personal consultations
  • In-class and online instruction
  • Presentations and workshops for small or large groups & classes
  • Customized support and training for each department and discipline
  • Online guidance and resources
Copyright © 2014-2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License.