Read: Some notes on copyright


on un-copyrighted works and on the work of the Bahá'í Library

Contributors to this website have different philosophies about the redistribution of their work. Many consider a piece to be public domain as soon as it is posted online, and don't mind it being redistributed. Others wish to be notified and asked for permission before anything is posted or printed elsewhere. To be safe, contact all authors and seek permission before redistributing or re-posting these texts. If you do not know how to contact an author, write to .

As well, all pieces quoted from the Library should be cited to give proper credit and/or responsibility for error to the authors and to the builders of the website. Conventions for internet citation are not yet universal, but a good resource of suggestions for citation is Melvin Page's A Brief Citation Guide for Internet Sources in History and the Humanities.
I, Jonah Winters, do give permission for the (properly cited) unrestricted use and redistribution of any of my articles, research notes, and the text of the Library itself (such as this section).
Sacred Writings, the works of the Guardian, materials produced by World Centre Publications, or the Bahá'í International Community may, according to an official statement by the Universal House of Justice, be reproduced electronically with no restrictions.

For an in-depth overview of the nature of copyright in the Internet age, see the National Research Council's report "The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age," online at books.nap.edu/books/0309064996/html.

on the copyright of other texts

Copyright can be a tricky issue, as laws change periodically and are sometimes retroactive. Indeed, the file lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ21.pdf, excerpted below, even states that "It is still uncertain how far a library may go under the Copyright Act of 1909 in supplying a photocopy of copy-righted material in its collection." We at the Bahá'í Library Online have been very careful to request posting permission from the author and/or the publisher of every item here, and will distribute no texts that are copyrighted for which we haven't received permission. If any item is found that might violate copyright law, or if we've made any other mistakes in this regard, please write to .
Below we have excerpted documents from the US Copyright Office Home Page on the issues of:
      (1) Fair Use
      (2) Reproduction by Libraries and Archives
      (3) Duration of Copyright Protection

As can be seen below, copyright may have expired on works published before 1977 (2005 minus 28 years), and anything published before 1923 is now public domain: see a comparison chart at http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm. In some cases a copyright search needs to be done: see lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ21.pdf, "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work."


1) Fair Use

excerpted from http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ21.pdf

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

2) Reproduction by Libraries and Archives

excerpted from http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ21.pdf

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement of copyright for a library or archives, or any of its employees acting within the scope of their employment, to reproduce no more than one copy or phonorecord of a work, or to distribute such copy or phonorecord, under the conditions specified by this section, if—
  1. the reproduction or distribution is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage;
  2. the collections of the library or archives are (i) open to the public, or (ii) available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives or with the institution of which it is a part, but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field; and
  3. the reproduction or distribution of the work includes a notice of copyright.
(b) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to a copy or phonorecord of an unpublished work duplicated in facsimile form solely for purposes of preservation and security or for deposit for research use in another library or archives of the type described by clause (2) of subsection (a), if the copy or phonorecord reproduced is currently in the collections of the library or archives.

(c) The right of reproduction under this section applies to a copy or phonorecord of a published work duplicated in facsimile form solely for the purpose of replacement of a copy or phonorecord that is damaged, deteriorating, lost, or stolen, if the library or archives has, after a reasonable effort, determined that an unused replacement cannot be obtained at a fair price.

(d) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to a copy, made from the collection of a library or archives where the user makes his or her request or from that of another library or archives, of no more than one article or other contribution to a copyrighted collection or periodical issue, or to a copy or phonorecord of a small part of any other copyrighted work, if—
  1. the copy or phonorecord becomes the property of the user, and the library or archives has had no notice that the copy or phonorecord would be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research; and
  2. the library or archives displays prominently, at the place where orders are accepted, and includes on its order form, a warning of copyright in accordance with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation.
(e) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to the entire work, or to a substantial part of it, made from the collection of a library or archives where the user makes his or her request or from that of another library or archives, if the library or archives. has first determined, on the basis of a reasonable investigation, that a copy or phonorecord of the copyrighted work cannot be obtained at a fair price, if—
  1. the copy or phonorecord becomes the property of the user, and the library or archives has had no notice that the copy or phonorecord would be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research; and
  2. the library or archives displays prominently, at the place where orders are accepted, and includes on its order form, a warning of copyright in accordance with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation.

Duration of Copyright Protection

excerpted from http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ1.pdf

Works Originally Copyrighted On or After January 1, 1978

A work that is created and fixed in tangible form for the first time on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of "a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire," the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death. For works made for hire and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author's identity is revealed in the Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is less. Works created before the 1976 law came into effect but neither published nor registered for copyright before January 1, 1978, have been automatically brought under the statute and are now given federal copyright protection. The duration of copyright in these works will generally be computed in the same way as for new works: the life-plus-70 or 95/120-year terms will apply. However, all works in this category are guaranteed at least 25 years of statutory protection.

Works Copyrighted Before January 1, 1978

Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published with notice of copyright or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either case, copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date on which it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal. The copyright law extends the renewal term from 28 to 67 years for copyrights in existence on January 1, 1978. However, for works copyrighted prior to January 1, 1964, the copyright still must have been renewed in the 28th calendar year to receive the 67-year period of added protection. The amending legislation enacted June 26, 1992, automatically extends this second term for works first copyrighted between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977. For more detailed information on the copyright term, write or call the Copyright Office and request Circular 15a, "Duration of Copyright," and Circular 15t, "Extension of Copyright Terms."

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