• Copyright in unpublished works (this covers most material in archives) lasts for at least the life of the author plus 70 years; a term which is longer than it used to be.
    • There is a special exemption for libraries and archives to make digital copies of materials for the sole purpose of preservation.
    • Works published in the U.S. before 1923 are in the public domain.
    • A “fair use” is a use for which you do not have to ask permission. You cannot know in advance whether a use is fair; a judge must determine whether the use was fair after the fact. There are four factors for judging whether a use is fair. All four must be considered; if a use meets one criterion but not another, the use is likely to be judged unfair:
      • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
      • the nature of the copyrighted work;
      • the amount and substantality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
      • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
  • Government records are in the public domain.

There are several tools to help you discover whether a work is copyrighted and whether a planned use is fair, including:

Look for materials that employ the Creative Commons rights management. This system employs symbols that make it easy to know what rights an author claims in their work.

Resources for Using Video Clips