Copyright guidelines (Special Collections and Archives)

Copies in any form provided by the Special Collections and Archives department are not intended to include or imply permission of additional copyright holder(s). Researchers are responsible for observing all U.S. and international copyright regulations.

No more than five percent of a individual work or collection may be photocopied. Wholesale photocopying of copyrighted works is not permitted. The following guidelines apply:

  • No more than one-quarter of a book may be photocopied, with a maximum of 100 printed pages.
  • No more than one-half of a pamphlet (more than 32 pages in length) may be photocopied, with a maximum of 50 printed pages.
  • Broadsides, brochures and pamphlets of 32 pages or less may be photocopied in their entirety, if condition permits.
  • No more than 50 photocopies per day from manuscript or archival collections.

When requesting and making use of copies, researchers assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or other intellectual property rights belonging to the creator or the creator’s heirs or assigns. Researchers also accept responsibility for communicating with the holder(s) of copyright concerning permissions to quote or otherwise publish material protected by copyright.

Notice Concerning Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, USC) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, archives and libraries are authorized to furnish a photocopy or reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “private study, scholarship or research,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

The Special Collections and Archives department makes digital versions of collections accessible in the following situations:

  • The department makes copyrighted images accessible online for education and research purposes as a legal fair use,
  • The department has permission from rights holders to make them accessible online,
  • The rights are owned by the Special Collections and Archives department and Cal Poly,
  • There are no known restrictions on use (e.g., orphan works), OR
  • They are in the public domain

The digitized collections available online are made accessible to the public strictly for noncommercial educational and research purposes. Please note that some online images are displayed under the exemptions for fair use outlined in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law, which allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder for comment, criticism, teaching, and private scholarship. Subsequently, items displayed online may be subject to copyright restrictions; their display on this website is NOT an indication of their clearance for other uses by archives patrons. Upon request, the Special Collections and Archives department will remove copyrighted materials from public view while rights issues are addressed.

Due to the nature of archival collections, the department is not always able to identify rights information. All rights holders are listed, when known. The department is eager to hear from any unidentified rights owners, so that we may obtain accurate information about the department’s collections. If you have any additional information about an image or recording, or would like to suggest a correction, please contact the department’s Digital Archivist, Zach Vowell, at ude.yloplacnull@llewovz or (805) 756-5710.

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use particular items in the context of the intended use. All users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. To learn more about U.S. copyright law, please see

For more information about securing permission to use the department’s collections, please consult the Reproduction Services page.