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Copyright and Fair Use Guide

Copyright and Fair Use Frequently Asked Questions


Who has copyright to the archives?  What about your digital collections?

Copyright varies depending on the specific collection.  Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives has copyright for many, but not all, of its collections.  We plan to edit finding aids (our collection descriptions) to reflect the copyright status of our collections, but until that is finished, the best way to determine copyright is to email

It's a bit easier to determine copyright for most of the digital digital collections (both ours and the Center for Digital Scholarships) that are available here.  When you click on the thumbnail of a particular picture of document, there are a series of fields that contain information about the item and the collection to which it belongs.  See the red circle on the sample below:


How can I get a copy of a photograph from your digital collections to use in a presentation or publication?

You must contact the copyright holder for permission to use photographs (see the screenshot above for a simple way to know who holds copyright).  If the copyright holder is listed as the "Trustees of Indiana University," you can contact Special Collections at  All requests require you to fill out this form.  Costs will vary depending on the number of photos, the specific use, and whether or not the images are being used by nonprofit organizations.

Can I get a copy of a photograph for personal use?

In most cases, you can get a copy of a photograph for personal use, which does not include publication of any kind.  Please contact IUPUI Special Collections at to ask about the specific photo(s) you're interested in. All requests require you to fill out this form. There is no publication fee, however, scanning fees may apply if the photograph has not already been digitized.  We do not currently provide physical prints, but many stores offer printing services for scanned photographs.

How do I cite information from the archives or from the library's digital collections?

The finding aids for our collections provide a template for citation, that usually looks something like this:  New Farmers of America Records, 1929-1965, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis.

Citations will vary based on the type of citation required in your field or for your project and the type of object being cited.  The Library of Congress provides examples for Chicago, MLA, and APA styles for the most common types of resources.

Does copyright mean that I can't quote documents from the archives?

Fair use allows you to quote excerpts from archival materials with proper attribution.  Use the Fair Use Evaluator to determine whether or not your use may be considered fair use.