The copyright ownership for original archival materials and primary sources can be challenging. Often, many different people created such items, or a single person collected materials from copywritten sources that they include in their personal papers that end up donated to an archives and special collections. In general, archives provide general restrictions on use statements that address copyright issues for the collection. These restrictions on use statements will most commonly be located in the finding aids (or collection inventories) for archival collections.
When the UHCL Archives and Special Collections obtains collections as donations from members of the public or transfers from internal UHCL offices and personnel, we obtain copyright ownership to all materials for which the donors or transferring university entities possess. That does not cover such things as newspaper clippings from a copyrighted newspaper that an individual kept in their papers, or a partner's published and copywritten report transferred from a UHCL office to the UHCL Archives.
All materials created by the University of Houston-Clear Lake on its and its personnel's own--unless there are noted copyrights--have the copyright owned by UHCL and the UHCL Archives and Special Collections. Materials donated through a signed deed of gift from members of the public for materials they either created, co-created, or are the legal recipients of, transfer their ownership and copyrights to the UHCL Archives and Special Collections.
Materials held by UHCL Archives and Special Collections may be protected by United States Copyright Law and/or by the copyright laws of other countries. Copyright law protects unpublished as well as published materials, such as unpublished letters or manuscripts. UHCL Archives and Special Collections does not claim to control the rights for reproduction for all materials or images in its collections. Certain images or materials may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by the UHCL Archives and Special Collections.
If the UHCL Archives and Special Collections does not clearly hold the copyright to an item, UHCL Archives and Special Collections cannot grant or deny permission to use that material, we can only provide access to the materials. In obtaining a reproduction from UHCL Archives and Special Collections, you assume all responsibility for determining whether any permissions relating to copyright, privacy, publicity, trademark, or any other rights are necessary for your intended use, and for obtaining all required permissions. To learn more about the process to obtain permission from copyright owners, the U.S. Copyright Office has produced this circular updated in 2021: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ16a.pdf
Written permission from the copyright holders and/or other rights holders is required for publication, distribution, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by the "fair use" clause under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. This is why the UHCL Archives and Special Collections asks that researchers wishing to use their materials for various means of publication contact the UHCL Associate Director for written permission (by email or letter) from us. When you use material, you must properly acknowledge UHCL Archives and Special Collections as the source of the material.
UHCL Archives and Special Collections staff will not do research concerning the existence and/or whereabouts of rights holders. To the extent that we provide available information, the UHCL Archives do not warranty the accuracy of such information and shall not be responsible for any inaccurate information. UHCL Archives and Special Collections will not facilitate or execute requests for permission from copyright holders other than the UHCL Archives.
The Society of American Archivists provides further guidance about using copyrighted and unpublished materials. The U.S. Copyright Office provides information about How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work. When you cannot identify or locate the current copyright owner of a copyrighted work, the copyrighted material is sometimes called an “orphan work.” Columbia University Libraries and the Society of American Archivists also provide advice about documenting searches for copyright owners and using orphan works.
Materials created by government agencies such as NASA are available for public use copyright-free with appropriate acknowledgment of the source of the information or archival items. However, materials created by private organizations other than NASA but for NASA projects often retain their copyright, and the copyright remains with the creator and organization, under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law.
Information and most of the structure for the content of this page on copyright was taken directly, with edits and updates, from the University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives' "Rights, Permissions, Copyright, & Citations" webpage, viewed online on September 15, 2022, at https://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc/services/rights/
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