What is Copyright?
• Copyright is an important part of archives management.
o Must be aware of copyright issues you have in your repository.
▪ Do you have materials from which you do not own the copyright?
▪ How will you address these collections in the event of a publication request?
o How do you handle the copyright questions when a collection is donated?
• Terms to remember.
o Intellectual property.
▪ If you write something, create a work, it’s your intellectual property.
▪ What you apply to copyright is your intellectual property.
o Public domain.
▪ If something is no longer under copyright protection, it’s considered to be in the
o Fair use.
o Orphan works.
▪ Because there is no database of copyright holders, for works we don’t know the
copyright status of, and with investigation we can’t confirm, they fall into this
• Used to not be complicated; was incorporated into the U.S. Constitution.
o Article I, Section 8, Clause 8: “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by
securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective
writings and discoveries.”
• You can’t copyright something in perpetuity; the first range was for fourteen years with an
option to renew if the author was still alive.
o Time on copyright has evolved and gotten longer over the years.
o Currently copyright term limits are:
▪ Individual – life of author plus 70 years after the death of the author.
• Must have been registered before 1978 and had to be renewed.
▪ Corporations – 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication.
• All works published in the US before 1923 are public domain.
o For works published prior to 1978, they had to be renewed in their 28 year to get
• Discussion ensued about whether or not state should administer copyright; they did for a time
but this eventually went back to federal control.
• Digital Materials Copyright Act (DMCA), 1998.
What is currently in the Public Domain?
• All works published in the US before 1923.
• All works published with a copyright notice from 1923 to 1963 without copyright renewal.
• All works published without a copyright at all from 1923 to 1977.
• All works published without a copyright notice from 1978 to March 1, 1