What's copyrighted?
Most works are, even if they don't have a copyright symbol.  Whether it's a photograph, a painting or a cartoon - if you can see it, it's probably copyrighted.  "Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time."   "The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law..." --- U.S. Copyright Office

Can we scan pictures from books?
Only with permission, since most images are copyrighted.  No matter how old the book's photos or paintings are, it's likely that the book publisher has copyright for the images, or has obtained rights to use the images from the copyright holders. Crediting the photo isn't good enough.

Do we need permission to download pictures from the Web?
Absolutely.  "The medium (i.e.. print or electronic) does not make a difference. The odds are excellent that anything you see on the Internet is copyrighted and that using it without permission constitutes an infringement." -- The Copyright Society of the U.S.A.

What if it's something really old?
Works created before 1923 are generally in the public domain (not copyrighted).  But, museums usually hold the copyright to their paintings and other works.  Unless they give us permission, we may not be allowed to reproduce their collections in the newspaper. --Lolly Gasaway's Public Domain Chart

Where do we find photos without copyright restrictions?
Works created by the U.S. government have no copyright.  Some databases of photos - such as the AP Photo Archive and PressLink - sell images for one-time use in newspapers.  Ask the Photography department for help locating pictures in these databases.

What if the picture is on a U.S. government Web site?
Even if the Web site belongs to the U.S. government, the images might not.  The Library of Congress has a wonderful collection of pictures on its American Memory Web site, but it makes a disclaimer about their copyright status: "...the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of Library of Congress gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks.   Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners." -- The Library of Congress

Do we need permission to use an album or book cover with a review?
No. "Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work...for purposes such as not an infringement of copyright." --U.S. Copyright Office

Is it okay to use the picture if we can't find the copyright owner?
"No, not any more than being unable to find a grocery store clerk lets you walk out without paying for your order. "--The Copyright Society of the U.S.A.

What if we find the owner, but we don't get an answer?
Sometimes, even if you go through all the right steps, you may not figure out whom to ask or the owner may not respond. There truly may be no  one who cares about what you do with a particular work, but the bottom line is that no amount of unsuccessful effort eliminates liability for copyright infringement. Copyright protects materials whether the owner cares about protection or not. --The University of Texas Copyright Crash Course

If we don't have time to get it in writing, is it okay if we get verbal permission?
"Permission does not have to be in writing. If you receive oral permission, precisely describe what you want to do, and then document the conversation carefully. It wouldn't hurt to send a confirming letter to the owner, asking him or her to initial it and return it to you if it accurately reflects your agreement." --The University of Texas Copyright Crash Course

Once we have permission, can we save the photo in Tark and re-use it?
According to the Copyright Society, most copyright holders assume you only want the right to use the photo one time.  If you want to archive and re-use the photo, you need to specify that when you ask for permission.

Do we have a permission form to use?
Yes. Feel free to fax or mail the attached form when requesting copyright.

By the way, what's the worst that can happen if we use something without permission?
"(c) Statutory Damages. (Sec. 504. Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits- U.S. Code)   (2) In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $100,000." --Code of Federal Regulations, Title 17, Chapter 5

So, how do we get permission?
It may take some digging.  Here are a few places to find copyright holders:
Book publishers
Check out the publishers list in Good News (Local Non-Daily/Book/PublishersList).
Try searching for their names on the Internet with Northern Light (
Web site owners
Try WhoIs ( WhoIs gives you the names and phone numbers of Web site administrators.

For more information, try one of these Web sites:
The Copyright Commandments (
Copyright Crash Course (
The Copyright Office (
Copyright Q & A from the Library of Congress (
The Copyright Society of the U.S.A. (