Each January 1 (beginning in 2019), the date for works in the public domain moves forward one year.
In 2020, most works published in the U.S. before 1925 are in the public domain.
This may supersede the information provided in older resources cited below.
Review of Copyright and Reproduction of Works
Overview of Digitizing Collections
- Legal Issues to Consider When Digitizing Collections
- Well-Intentioned Practice for Putting Digitized Collections of Unpublished Materials Online
- Library of Congress legal statement regarding copyright, privacy and publicity rights.
Public Domain, Fair Use and *Orphan Works
- Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States, updated each January 1st. Comprehensive table with information about the copyright term for unpublished items, items published in the United States and internationally, sound recordings and special cases.
- Copyright Resources ALA Office for Information Technology Policy. Several online tools for learning about copyright and use of materials.
- Is it in the Public Domain? Flowchart and Handbook Information to help determine copyright status and assess risks for works created from 1923-1977.
- Copyright and Fair Use Charts and Tools Excellent links, including information on media and performance works.
- Fair Use checklist Simple 2-page form for determining fair use.
- Determining Orphan Works vs. Public Domain Status for Print Works Published in the U.S. from 1923 through 1977 Flowchart to help determine if your item is in the public domain.
- Digitizing Orphan Works: Legal strategies to reduce risks… Report from Orphan Works Project
*Orphan works: Items that are copyright protected, but for which the copyright owner cannot be determined or located. If needed, use this term to investigate issues surrounding their publication.
Researching Copyright Status
- How to Investigate Copyright Status, Circular 22 U.S. Copyright Office Includes an overview of copyright issues.
- Search copyright registration & renewals:
Library of Congress Copyright Catalog (1978-present)
Stanford University Copyright Renewals (1950-1992)
University of Pennsylvania Copyright Registration & Renewals (1789-present)
Google - scanned Catalog of Copyright Entries (1922-1977)
Copyright Permission Information
- Copyright Permission FAQ Includes sample form.
- Rights Statements Recommended rights statements for different situations; use in Dublin Core "Rights" field.
Copyright Code: Reproduction by Libraries