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Copyright Guidelines

Required Copyright Statement

In order to include a digital object in HDR, we need to know who the copyright owner is and what the permissions are to be granted to users of the material being submitted. If the copyright of the digital object is not held by you by Hamilton College, we need to have assurance hat you have been given permission by the copyright holder to submit it to the College's repository for the uses described in your <Collection Proposal Form>.

How to tell if something is in the public domain?

  • It is in the public domain if...

    • it was published before 1923 and its copyright was not renewed

    • if it was unpublished and the author died before 1935

    • if it was transferred to deed of gift

  • If an item's copyright is held by Hamilton College, we can distribute it in any way we want or place restrictions on its use.

How do I investigate the Copyright Status of a Work?

  • Check the "Copyright Renewal Database"
    This database makes searchable the copyright renewal records received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1993 for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963.

  • See the Library of Congress' Copyright Office Web site -- especially Circular 22 on "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work" <> (accessed May 16, 2015).

  • "Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices" (Society of American Archivists) "Orphan works" is a term used to describe the situation in which the owner of a copyrighted work cannot be identified and located by someone who wishes to make use of the work in a manner that requires permission of the copyright owner. <>

  • The University of Texas prepared a helpful list of "Collective Rights Organizations" that you can contact for help with clearing copyright for an object <> (accessed May 16, 2008).

What can I do if I cannot determine the copyright status?

If you cannot determine if an object is free of copyright restrictions, you must provide a detailed account that shows clear intent to obtain permission to digitize and disseminate the object for educational purposes.


Almost anything to do with music is protected by intellectual property rights. Distribution of music must have the artist's permission and if requested by the artist a royalty payment may have to be paid. "A Guide to Copyright for Music Librarians" (Music Library Association) is available at <> (accessed April 11, 2012).


  • Copyright – The legal protection for creators of original works that grants exclusive rights to such creators to display the work or ti perform the work publicly, to reproduce the work and to distribute the work.
  • Fair Use – A legal provision that allows limited reproduction of a work without requiring permission from the copyright holders, such as use for educational or scholarly use or for review.
  • Public Domain – These are works that are not copyright protected. They may be freely used by everyone.

Copyright Resources

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(Reviewed: February 02, 2016)