Answered By: Susan Halpert
Last Updated: Aug 24, 2015     Views: 86

Houghton Library no longer requires that readers request permission to publish, nor to quote from, public domain materials held in our collections.  However, we do require that you cite the source of the image or quotation properly so that researchers following your work will be able to locate the originals. Citations should read:  Houghton Library,   Harvard University, [call number].  Call numbers can be found in the records in our catalogs: HOLLIS, OASIS, and/or VIA.  Example for books: EC85.L2404.826c; example for manuscripts: b MS Am 2544 (7)

The vast majority of Houghton material is either in the public domain or under copyrights not controlled by Houghton. For material that is protected by copyright, certain uses (including but not limited to quoting, publishing, performing, and reproducing) may require permission from the copyright holder(s). When required, it is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain such permissions.

The following resources may be helpful in this regard:

  • Columbia University’s Copyright Advisory Office includes an overview of copyright law, including fair use, as it applies to research and teaching.
  • Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States, published by the Cornell Copyright Information Center can help researchers to determine if a work is in the public domain.
  • Several online resources can be useful in finding the current copyright holder of a work, and requesting licensing permission if it is required:
    • The WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) maintained by the Harry Ransom Center and the University of Reading is a database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields.
    • Artists Rights Society is a copyright, licensing and monitoring organization for visual artists in the United States.
    • DACS is a visual artists’ rights management organization in the United Kingdom.‚Äč
    • The ADAGP is a French collective which monitors copyright in the visual arts.
    • ASCAP and BMI are performing rights organizations which license and collect royalties for musical works.