Copyright and reuse

Unless otherwise noted, material in the Digital Library has generally been determined to be free from copyright or other restrictions based on a diligent search process outlined below. However, in the event that a determination is incorrect, there is a process for notifying us.

As with all Smithsonian content, items in the Digital Library may be used in accordance with the Smithsonian's terms of use.

Copyright Statements and Reuse

Below the book viewer for each digitized book in our Digital Library is additional bibliographic information, including a copyright statement. You may also find copyright information on image pages in our Image Gallery. The Smithsonian Libraries uses copyright statements that align with those used by

In addition, the Smithsonian Institution has adopted the use of a CC0 marker for public domain material. See the Smithsonian Open Access FAQs for more information about the use of CC0.

Books and images in our collections generally fall into the following categories:

"No Copyright - United States" or CC0
Most books in our digital library are in the Public Domain, and the statement will be "No Copyright - United States" and items will be marked with the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication, CC0. These items may be used, reused, and repurposed as you wish in accordance with Smithsonian's terms of use.

We ask that an attribution statement such as "Courtesy of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives" is used, along with a link back to the original source on our site. Please be sure to correctly cite the book in your preferred citation style.

"No Known Copyright"
This means that the Libraries has made reasonable effort to research the copyright of that title and found that the work was not protected or copyright was not renewed. See “Copyright Determination Guidelines” for more information on this process. The Libraries and Archives is not aware of any copyright restrictions on this material. In other Smithsonian systems, such as Smithsonian Collections Search, these items will be marked “Usage Conditions Apply”.

"In copyright."
Books labeled "In copyright." for the most part have been digitized with permission from the rights holder. In other Smithsonian systems, such as Smithsonian Collections Search, these items will be marked “Usage Conditions Apply”.

These items may have other restrictions, including the prohibition of reuse for commercial purposes without permission of the rights holder. If you wish to reuse portions of a book still protected by copyright for anything other than fair use purposes, please contact us.

“Copyright Not Evaluated”
“Copyright Not Evaluated” indicates items for which the copyright status is unknown and for which the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives has not undertaken an effort to determine the copyright status of the underlying Work. This status is not applied to fully digitized books in our Digital Library, but may be applied to individual images in the Image Gallery, exhibition websites and World of Maps project.

These assets are available for non-commercial, educational and research use in the United States only in accordance with fair use under the U.S. Copyright Act. International materials may be restricted under foreign laws. User is solely responsible for obtaining all necessary clearances before reproducing or publishing the material. If information on copyright is available, contact

Copyright Complaints and Take Down Notices

Based on copyright research, the Smithsonian Libraries will indicate which works included in the Digital Library have no known copyright restrictions, as outlined above. In the case where restrictions are known, permission will be sought from the copyright holder.  However, the Libraries and Archives respects the intellectual property rights of all authors and takes copyright complaints seriously. 

If you are the copyright holder or the authorized representative of the copyright holder for a work in this collection, and you believe your copyright may have been infringed and would like the Libraries to remove the work, please email Libraries and Archives staff at  In your message, please include:

  • Bibliographic details, including title, author, date and publisher.
  • A link to the work on our website.
  • A statement about why you believe the work is still protected by copyright and why its use is not authorized by the copyright owner or agent; and
  • Written documentation, such as evidence of copyright and renewal registrations, establishing your claim to copyright.

Upon receipt of the notice, the Libraries and Archives will evaluate the claim and if it appears to be valid, remove the work or content, as appropriate.

Obtaining High Resolution Images for Reuse or Commercial Purposes

If you would like to purchase a very high resolution image for a commercial project, exhibition, or publication, please see our Image Gallery FAQ page and then complete our Image Request Form.

Copyright Determination Guidelines

In 2014, the Smithsonian Libraries, created a workflow to research the copyright status of monographs (“Class A” materials) published in the United States between 1923 and 1977. The general process involves:

  • Evaluation of the physical copy and the catalog record.
  • A search of the Catalog of Copyright Entries (CCE) published by the Library of Congress and available online via the Internet Archive
  • A search of the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database for record of copyright renewal
  • At times, search of the original records held by the United States Copyright Office, Library of Congress
  • Documentation of all search outcomes

This process is similar to the Copyright Review Management System implemented by Hathi Trust. We believe that if no evidence of copyright for a work is found through this workflow, than that work is no longer protected by copyright law in the U.S. and thus eligible for full cover-to-cover digitization by the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives and its partners, including the Biodiversity Heritage Library and Internet Archive.  Such works will be designated as having “No known copyright restrictions.”