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Duplication Services

The Library of Congress > Duplication Services > First Time Here? > Copyright Restrictions

How Do I Get Permission for Copyrighted Works?

It is up to the patron to obtain such permission. Duplication Services will not investigate or determine the rights status of works; does not perform copyright research; and does not have additional information beyond what appears in the bibliographic record for a particular item. When unsure of how to research rights and restrictions, consider hiring a private copyright researcher or lawyer. Information about copyright is also available from the U.S. Copyright Office at

What Is Copyright?

Copyright protection is available in many countries to protect the rights of authors of creative works such as books and music. Each country's laws may be different. Each country's laws apply within the physical boundaries of the country.

In the United States, copyright is a form of protection provided by law (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Broadly speaking, the owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • To reproduce the work
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • To perform and display the work publicly

What is the Public Domain?

The public domain consists of works that are not protected by copyright law. Works may be in the public domain because their copyrights have expired, or they have been dedicated to the public domain by the rights holder, or they were ineligible for copyright protection in the first place. No permission is needed to copy public domain works; however, use of public domain works may nevertheless be restricted by licensing terms or by principles of privacy or publicity law or other applicable law. Works published in the United States prior to 1923 are in the public domain. U.S. Government works (prepared by federal employees in the scope of their employment) are not subject to copyright in the United States.

Can the Library of Congress Grant Permission to Reproduce a Work From its Collections?

No. Information about copyright and the Library's collections is available here:

How Should I Credit/Cite Material From Library of Congress Collections?

The Library is generally not the copyright holder of materials in the collections and should not be indicated as such. A citation acknowledging the institution and assisting further scholarship is appreciated. See "How should I credit the Library as the source of the images I'm using?"