The Center for History and New Media will adhere to the following policies in web-based publications:

  1. All of CHNM’s activities are for educational and non-commercial purposes and so the use of any copyrighted material by CHNM is restricted to educational and non-commercial purposes. CHNM will not make any copyrighted material commercially available without the written permission of the copyright holder.
  2. We will make free use of all documents that are in the public domain because of the expiration of copyright, because copyrights have not been renewed, because they lack proper notice, or because they were never copyrighted in the first place (e.g., government documents).
  3. For works in which copyright remains in force:
    1. Published and Unpublished Texts, including letters, diaries, novels, newspaper and magazine articles, essays, works of scholarship and other similar texts can be excerpted as educational fair use. CHNM will generally not excerpt more than 10 percent or 1,000 words from any of these texts, whichever is the smaller portion of the text, without the written permission of the copyright holder. But, following the fair use provisions of the copyright law, which are a set of guidelines rather than rigid rules, we might present larger or longer portions of works where the material is purely factual, where the material is not currently in print or readily available, or where the affect on market is limited. (Thus, for example, we would be less likely to post an entire article from the New York Times, which sells individual articles from its archive, than from another newspaper that doesn’t market its archive and which is not readily available to students and scholars.) In addition for shorter selections (e.g., a newspaper article), we might present a significantly longer percentage of the whole. We might also, for example, present a series of short excerpts from different newspapers. In the case of a translated excerpt that is still in copyright, the whole work would be the translated portion. Thus, if someone has translated 2,000 words of a longer work from Japanese to English, we would need permission unless we were just excerpting a small portion of that translation (e.g., 200 words).We will seek permission in other cases, but if a publisher is out of business and not available, we will consider a “good faith” effort adequate and will offer to remove the material if a copyright holder surfaces.
    2. Films: We will consider short excerpts of copyrighted films (ca. 3 minutes and no more than 2 per film) fair use when done for educational purposes.
    3. Music: A short excerpt (say 30 seconds) might constitute fair use, although we will generally present music at a lower fidelity (e.g., 48 mhz rather than CD quality).
    4. Radio: Scripted radio programs from after 1923 are generally in copyright for the script, but short excerpts (say five minutes of an hour program) would be permissible fair use. The sound recordings might be covered under copyright but arguably not when they are being used for educational purposes. Hence, unscripted radio programs can probably be presented. Where the script is publicly and freely available (as with some programs made available under the tobacco settlement), there might be a strong presumption of fair use.
    5. Poetry/lyrics: Care needs to be taken in presenting more than short excerpts from these because music publishers and poetry estates are notoriously aggressive in protecting rights. Nevertheless, there is certainly a case for fair use of excerpts and even an argument for a greater need to quote the entire work.
    6. Images: It is often difficult to excerpt from an image and, as a result, it can be permissible in some circumstances to use an entire image—for example, when the image is crucial to the educational message, it is part of a larger presentation with text, or it is only one image in a series. A good, fair use case, moreover, can be made for small excerpts from a larger image. In general, the fair use claim is stronger if the image is presented at lower resolution or in thumbnail form.
    7. Maps: Use of a copyrighted map requires permission, but it is permissible to create our own version of the map using the uncopyrightable underlying facts. If the map presents unconventional material, however, it may not be permissible to directly re-create it. Reproducing sections of a copyrighted map can be allowable fair use.
    8. Websites: Screenshots of websites when used in the context of a commentary about that website are fair use.
  4. Original two-dimensional images owned by museums and libraries: Some museums and libraries require permission for the use of images that are in the public domain. Following the logic of the decision in Bridgeman v. Corel, we believe that straightforward photos of public domain art can be freely used, e.g., you can scan an 1890 photograph published in a 1990 book and place it online.
  5. The collection of images and texts within our tools (e.g., the web scrapbook) is not a copyright infringement.
  6. We will include the following copyright disclaimer (or a link to it) on our websites: “Pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, George Mason University has designated an agent to respond to reports alleging copyright infringement. Any such allegations should be sent to:

George Mason University Libraries
Copyright and Scholarly Communications
Mailstop 2FL
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Telephone: (703) 993-2240


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Each year, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media’s websites receive over 2 million visitors, and more than a million people rely on its digital tools to teach, learn, and conduct research. Donations from supporters help us sustain those resources.