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Copyright & Permissions for Newspaper Digitization

Resources and tools related to copyright and permissions.



If the publisher says no but it is in the public domain, then what? First determine that it is in public domain. Then talk with the publisher about your plan.

If the newspaper is covered by copyright, you will need permission from the rights holder. Can you determine who holds the rights? An historical newspaper might have been sold or been bought out. It might be hard to tell who has the rights to the older issues. A former publisher might not own the rights any more.

Specify the title(s) and dates. Ask for perpetual and unlimited rights to:

  • Provide free online public access in Newspapers of Connecticut (in CTDA) on the World Wide Web (or its successors) to search, view and browse the newspapers

  • Permit the public to print, download or email the newspapers for non-commercial purposes

  • Ability to make derivative copies and to enhance the images, such as optical character recognition to make the text searchable

  • Ability to use the images in presentations about and promotions for the project and in online exhibits or educational materials such as lesson plans

Negotiate from there.

If the publisher agrees to some rights but not what you first wanted, understand the limitations. If the publisher says you can “Use only within your building from a portable hard drive” this may not permit:

  • Joining Newspapers of Connecticut or use in your branch libraries or from home
  • Patron printing, email or downloads
  • Answering patron requests via letter or ILL
  • Adapting as technology changes
  • Copies for digital preservation
  • Using articles for publicity


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