Permissions & Copyright

The Special Collections and Archives is committed to providing broad access to its collections for teaching, learning, and research. The Special Collections and Archives website, catalog records, finding aids, and digital images enhance scholarship and promote use of both the digital and the original object. By downloading, printing, or otherwise using text and images from this website, you agree to comply with the following conditions.

Except in a few special circumstances, the Special Collections and Archives does not hold the copyright to its materials and, hence, cannot grant or deny permission to use them. Accordingly, you are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of any materials you may wish to use, to investigate the owner of the copyright, and to obtain permission for your intended use. In all cases, you must cite the Special Collections and Archives as the source with the appropriate credit line provided below, and, if a particular material is copyrighted, you must cite all copyright information and comply with all other terms or restrictions that may be applicable to that material.

Public Domain and Fair Use

The Special Collections and Archives welcomes you to use materials in the public domain and to make fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by copyright law.

Public Domain: You do not need to obtain permission to use materials in the public domain. (Cornell University publishes a chart that may help you to identify what is and is not in the public domain in the United States.)

Fair Use: The United States copyright law contains an exception for fair use of copyrighted materials, which includes the use of protected materials for certain purposes of teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and news reporting. For guidelines on the fair use exception, please refer to the website of the United States Copyright Office.

You are solely responsible for determining whether your use is fair and for responding to any claims that may arise from your use. By using materials from the website, you agree and warrant that your use will not violate the rights of the Special Collections and Archives or any other person or entity.

Commercial Use

If you wish to use any copyrighted materials or content on the website for commercial use or any purpose other than fair use as defined by law, you must request and receive prior written permission for your intended use from the copyright holder. (See Researching copyright below for assistance with investigating copyright status and ownership.) As mentioned above, the Special Collections and Archives has been assigned copyright in only a few special circumstances, and you must obtain permission for commercial use or any other use of these specific materials that is not fair use as defined by law by writing the appropriate curator. Permission is granted on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of the Special Collections and Archives.

Direct research questions to the appropriate curator. For phone numbers and e-mail addresses of individual staff members, please check the directory.

Researching Copyright

The copyright holder is usually the author of the material or the author’s heirs or assigns. The following are resources that may assist your investigation of the copyright status and ownership of the copyrighted material you wish to use:

WATCH File: The WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) is a database containing primarily the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.

U.S. Copyright Office: You can search a public database at the U.S. Copyright Office for copyright information on all works registered with the U.S. Copyright Office after January 1, 1978.

Privacy, Publicity, and Third Party Rights

The rights of privacy and publicity are separate and distinct issues from copyright. While copyright laws protect the copyright owner’s property rights in the work, privacy and publicity rights protect the interests of the individuals who are the subject of the work. The right of publicity is a person’s right to control, and profit from, the use of his or her name, image and likeness. This means that any use of a person’s name, image or likeness for commercial gain is not permitted without his or her consent. The right of privacy is a person’s right to live outside of the public eye and free from the publicizing of intimate details of his or her life, which means that directing unwanted public attention to a person may give rise to a cause of action. Keep in mind that while a person’s right to privacy generally ends with his or her death, publicity rights associated with the commercial value of that person’s name, image, or likeness may continue after their death. For example, many estates and representatives of famous deceased authors, photographers, celebrities, and other well-known figures continue to control and license use of their names and likenesses.

Unlike copyright, which is subject to the federal Copyright Act of 1976, privacy and publicity rights are subject to state laws; hence, what may be permitted in one state may not be permitted in another. Although fair use is a defense to copyright infringement, it is not a defense to claims alleging violation of privacy or publicity rights. Issues pertaining to privacy and publicity may arise when you contemplate the use of the materials in the Special Collections and Archives. For instance, if you want to download a copyrighted photograph containing the name or likeness of one or more individuals for use in a paper, in addition to determining whether your intended use requires consent from the copyright holder, and, if so, securing the copyright holder’s written permission, you may also need to secure the consent of the people who appear in the photograph in order to comply with state privacy and publicity laws.

You are solely responsible for addressing issues of privacy and publicity rights relating to your use of the materials. Because the Special Collections and Archives is vast, it is not in a position to advise you on whether materials you wish to use require third-party permissions.

Contact the Special Collections and Archives

Whenever possible, the Special Collections and Archives provides factual information about copyright owners and related matters pertaining to its materials. Please contact the Special Collections and Archives at archives@gsu.edu if you have more information about any such material, or, if you are the copyright owner and believe the website has not properly attributed your work or has used it without your authorization.

Contact Special Collections

Phone: (404) 413-2880
Fax: (404) 413-2881
E-Mail: archives@gsu.edu

Mailing Address:
Special Collections & Archives
Georgia State University Library
100 Decatur Street, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3202

In Person:
Library South, 8th floor
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