About Newspaper Copyright
Copyright is a complicated subject. However, there are some basic rules that apply to both users and authors. Among the most critical for bringing a previously printed newspaper online are:
- Any newspaper printed prior to 1926 is in public domain and may be digitized and brought online
- Any newspaper published after 1925 and prior to 1964 has a strong probability of being in the public domain. If it is, it may be digitized and brought online without requiring any permissions.
- To be protected by copyright a paper published between these years was required to include a printed copyright notice within the paper itself. If there is no notice, the paper is not copyrighted.
- If notice was published, copyright expired after 28 years, unless a renewal was requested. A convenient online tool through which you can determine if a renewal was requested is http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/cce/.
- Any newspaper published before 1978 may be in the public domain. If it is, it may be digitized and brought online without requiring any permissions.
- Prior to 1978, to obtain copyright a newspaper was required to publish a copyright notice in the newspaper in order to obtain copyright. Beginning in 1964, renewal was automatic.
- Newspapers published after 1977 are copyrighted. Permission of the copyright holder is required to digitize and bring such a paper online.
- After 1977, copyright was automatically granted upon publication, with or without written notice.
- Remember, you can copy anything with the written permission of the copyright holder, so ask!
Copyright information is subject to change due to a subsequent revision of federal law or court ruling.