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Copyright and Fair Use: Special Collections and University Archives

A primer on the U.S. Copyright Act and Fair Use.

Warning Concerning Copyright and Other Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

The University Library reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law or other restrictions, including, but not limited to privacy rights, donor agreements, and preservation considerations.

Special Collections including Manuscripts and Rare Books

The University Library encourages the use of its special collections for personal, educational, and scholarly purposes. Any reproduction should be credited to the library and include any other identifying information, including identification numbers, links, collection name, box and folder numbers, or call numbers. Photographs of collection items taken in our Special Collections and University Archives Department reading rooms at the Richard J. Daley Library and Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago may be used only for personal purposes, including reference, research, and social media posts.

The University Library does not claim copyright to most of the materials in our special collections and advises that the use of reproductions of University Library collection items shall be at the user's sole risk. In all cases, researchers are responsible for determining whether the material is in the public domain or whether it is protected by copyright law. If the material is protected by copyright, researchers are responsible for determining whether the intended use is within the limits of fair use, and if not, for obtaining permission from any rights holder. The University Library shall not be responsible for any claims of misuse of any material it makes available to researchers.

When viewing our digital collections, or when ordering reproductions, researchers will encounter the following rights statements:

  • Copyright not evaluated - Used for sources with undetermined or un-researched copyright status. The majority of our collections will have this designation. The researcher is responsible for researching copyright using the tools provided in this research guide.
  • In copyright - Used for sources known or assumed to be in copyright by an entity other than the University Library. We will provide whatever information we have regarding the copyright holder, but the researcher is solely responsible for securing permission from rights holders, or determining that their intended use falls within the boundaries of fair use.
  • In copyright - non-commercial use permitted - This designation is used when the University Library holds the copyright. No further permissions need to be sought. However, best practices require that complete and accurate credit lines accompany any public display or publication, including creator and dates (when known), identification numbers, collection name, and repository information. Commercial use is prohibited unless explicitly granted by the University Library.
  • No copyright - United States Used for sources in the public domain. Public domain sources have no restrictions on their use.

If you have questions complete the form below to contact us.

University Archives

The University Archives holds records of the University of Illinois at Chicago, including its predecessor institutions, and papers from the faculty, staff, or alumni.  The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois holds the copyright for all records in the University Archives, but not necessarily including creative or scholarly work, or intellectual property produced by individuals within the University or hired by the University.
 
There are instances where University records contain content created by third parties who may claim copyright. For these records, and for faculty, staff, or alumni papers held in the University Archives, use of these materials mirrors that of special collections materials and follows those guidelines above.
 
When viewing University Archives digital records, or when ordering reproductions, researchers will encounter the following rights statement:
  • In copyright - non-commercial use permitted - This designation is used for all University Archives records. No further permissions need to be sought. However, best practices require that complete and accurate credit lines accompany any public display or publication, including identification numbers, links, collection name, and box and folder numbers. Commercial use is prohibited unless explicitly granted by the University Archivist.
  • In copyright - Used for sources known or assumed to be in copyright by an entity other than the University Library. We will provide whatever information we have regarding the copyright holder, but the researcher is solely responsible for securing permission from rights holders, or determining that their intended use falls within the boundaries of fair use.
  • No copyright - United States Used for sources in the public domain. Public domain sources have no restrictions on their use.
All reproductions must be credited to the University Archives with the correct identifying information that includes the identification numbers, links, collection name, and box and folder numbers.  Researchers are responsible for determining whether the intended use is within the limits of fair use, and if not, for obtaining permission to publish from the University Archivist