Copyright Information

Federal copyright law (Copyright Law of 2003) governs the making of copies and quoting for publication. For more information see

  • Ownership of the physical item does not include ownership of the intellectual content (copyright).
  • Disciples of Christ Historical Society owns many manuscripts, photographs, and other documents for which it does not own copyright.
  • Copyright in most cases belongs to the creator (or heirs thereof) of the document or photograph.
  • To determine the length of time a document is protected by copyright, one must first know when it was created and whether it is published or unpublished. Copyright protection applies to all documents whether or not they are marked with copyright notice.
  • All published works created after January 2, 1978, are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years.
  • For pre-1978 published documents and photographs the total term is extended to 95 years from the date that copyright was originally secured. A work published without copyright notice in the United States before 1978 is in the public domain (copyright has expired).
  • Any unpublished and/or unregistered document or photograph created before January 1, 1978, and whose author died before January 1, 1933, entered the public domain on January 1, 2003.
  • Unpublished documents and photographs created by authors who died after January 1, 1933, (or are still living) will be protected for 70 years after the author’s death.
  • Photocopy regulations at Disciples of Christ Historical Society comply with Section 107 of the Copyright Act – this section describes the concept of “Fair Use,” which allows making copies or publishing quotations without permission of the copyright owner.
  • In the absence of specific judicial guidelines on Fair Use decisions on photocopying and quoting or publishing copyrighted materials permission will be granted by DCHS on a case-by-case basis using the four factors outlined in Section 107: 
    • the purpose and character of the use,
    • the nature of the material used,
    • the amount of material used in relation to the whole, and
    • the effect of the use on the market for the work.
  • Locating the holder(s) of the copyright is the responsibility of the researcher. In some cases, historical society staff may be able to assist in locating copyright owners. No responsibility or liability on the part of Disciples of Christ Historical Society is implied in such assistance.