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Manuscripts, Archives, Photographs, Oral Histories and Other Unpublished Works

Status: The Copyright Revision Act of 1976 dramatically changed copyright protection for unpublished works. Most significantly, the 1976 Act terminated perpetual copyright protection for unpublished records. For the first time, unpublished records are protected by federal statutory law for a specified period of time.

Use guidelines and procedures: As with published works, Title 17(opens in a new tab) permits reproduction of unpublished records without securing permission from the copyright owner when the copying amounts to fair use of the material. Reproduction of unpublished records, however, may also be subject to special and additional copying restrictions imposed by the records creator or the donor. Therefore, before reproduction of any unpublished records can be permitted, it will be necessary to check acquisition files, contracts, deeds of gift, etc., to determine whether any special copying restrictions exist.

If copying is permissible, the mediated copying procedures must be followed. If permission to reproduce is required, the requester will be provided with available information regarding ownership and a description of basic procedures for acquiring permissions. Ultimately, however, it is the responsibility of the requester to obtain all permissions and to comply with Title 17.