Rights, Permissions, and Reproductions Framework

In the service of the University Libraries’ mission, the Special Collections makes available through its reproduction services and via the internet copies of certain materials from its collections.  We welcome use of materials in the public domain and fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by U.S. Copyright Law.

Requesting Reproductions

Some Special Collections materials have already been digitized and are available in the Digital Gallery, where they may be downloaded at low resolution for free. Users are encouraged to check the Digital Gallery before placing a request for reproductions.

To submit a request for reproductions of materials that are not available in the Digital Gallery, or higher-resolution copies of materials already in the Digital Gallery, please contact the appropriate Special Collections unit. For unit contact information, see the webpages of the Browne Popular Culture LibraryCenter for Archival CollectionsCurriculum Resource Center, or Music Library and Bill Schurk Sound Archives.

All reproduction requests will require the payment of applicable reproduction service fees, as well as the completion and submission of a reproduction request form that applies to the intended use. Applicable forms will be provided upon receipt of reproduction requests.

Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis according to the framework set forth on this page, donor arrangements, physical format and condition of the original material, technological capabilities, the number of reproductions requested, and the requestor’s agreement to specified terms of use.  Turn-around time for reproduction requests is dependent upon the volume and complexity of the order and the format of the reproductions. If a deadline is involved, discuss the timeline for reproduction orders with the appropriate Special Collections staff.

The University Libraries Special Collections units reserve the right to limit the number of copies made; to restrict the use of rare, valuable, or fragile items; to deny a request because of copyright regulations, privacy rights, donor-imposed regulations, or other rights-related issues; and to revise an order due to preservation concerns or time constraints.  Requestors will be informed of any necessary changes to their order, including any associated price increases entailed by such changes, before reproduction work begins.  Additional charges may apply to complex and large requests requiring special handling.


As a matter of good scholarly practice, when using reproductions of Special Collections materials, please properly acknowledge the appropriate Special Collections unit(s) as the source of the reproductions.  For preferred citation information, please contact the appropriate Special Collections unit. For unit contact information, see the webpages of the Browne Popular Culture LibraryCenter for Archival CollectionsCurriculum Resource Center, or Music Library and Bill Schurk Sound Archives.

When using reproductions of copyrighted materials, cite all copyright information and comply with all other terms or restrictions that may be applicable to those materials. 

The requestor must agree to send each relevant Special Collections unit one copy, best edition, at no charge, of all work(s) containing reproductions of Special Collections materials, and to cover all expenses for shipping and handling.

The name of the Special Collections or its individual units, the University Libraries, or Bowling Green State University must not be used in any manner which creates any false association between the requestor and the image, materials, the University Libraries, and/or BGSU, or that incorrectly implies any sponsorship or endorsement by the University Libraries, BGSU, or any third party rights holder.


Requestors are solely responsible for determining whether any permissions relating to copyright are necessary for their intended use, and for obtaining all required permissions.

Materials held by the Special Collections, whether published or unpublished, may be protected by U.S. Copyright Law and/or the copyright laws of other countries.  Users seeking to publish, distribute, reproduce, or otherwise use Special Collections materials for purposes beyond those allowed by fair use must determine whether the materials have passed into the public domain and are no longer under copyright protection, or identify the copyright holder(s) and obtain permission to reproduce the materials.  Publication includes, but is not limited to, print, film, slide presentation, video, television, and electronic transmission. Transmitting an image or file on the internet is equivalent to reproducing and distributing that image in print.

Please note that while the Special Collections physically owns all materials in our collections, in most cases we are not the owner of the copyright to those materials.  Further, the nature of historical collections is such that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Descriptive records and finding aids for collection materials clearly state copyright information and restrictions on use when they are known.  The absence of copyright or other information on restrictions is no guarantee, however, that a work is in the public domain either in the United States or abroad. The Special Collections makes no express or implied warranty to users wishing to use or reproduce items found in its collections.

The Special Collections cannot provide permission to publish or distribute materials for which it is not the copyright holder, perform research concerning the existence and/or whereabouts of rights holders, or facilitate or execute user requests for permission.

The Society of American Archivists provides further guidance about using copyrighted and unpublished materials. The U.S. Copyright Office provides information about how to investigate the copyright status of a work.  Copyrighted works for which the current copyright owner cannot be identified or located are sometimes called “orphan works.” The Society of American Archivists also provides advice about documenting searches for copyright owners and using orphan works.

Privacy and Publicity Rights

In addition to copyright, materials held by the Special Collections may also be subject to rights of privacy and publicity.  The rights of privacy and publicity are distinct from copyright.  Although fair use is a defense to copyright infringement, it is not a defense to violating privacy or publicity rights.  Users are solely responsible for addressing issues of privacy and publicity rights relating to the use of Special Collections materials.

An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR 46 (Protection of Human Subjects).  The Special Collections reserves the right to require a release from individuals whose privacy may be violated by the reproduction of its materials.  (For an example of such a release, see BGSU/WBGU-TV's talent release form.)

The right of publicity is a person’s right to control, and profit from, the use of a name, image, and likeness. This means that any use of a person’s name, image, or likeness for commercial gain is not permitted without consent. Rights of publicity are governed by state laws; for example, the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2741 governs rights of publicity in the state of Ohio.


In receiving a reproduction from the Special Collections, the requestor assumes all responsibility for infringement of copyright or other rights in their use of the material. The requestor must agree to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Special Collections, the University Libraries, Bowling Green State University, and its Trustees, officers, agents, and employees, from and against any and all liabilities, losses, demands, penalties, costs, expenses,  attorneys’ fees, lawsuits, fines, judgments, or causes of actions, including but not limited to claims relating to infringement of copyright, trademark, invasion of rights of privacy or publicity, or libel that arise either directly or indirectly from any use by the requestor of the images and/or materials provided by the Special Collections, University Libraries, Bowling Green State University, and its Trustees, officers, agents, or employees.


This framework has been adapted with appreciation from those of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University LibraryCornell University LibraryNorthwestern University Libraries; and the Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, UNLV.

Updated: 06/05/2023 09:44AM