OU Digital Collections Terms of Use

Using digital items

Items in OU Libraries Digital Collections are available to enhance scholarship, teaching, and community engagement, and to promote use of the digital objects, their metadata, and the original objects. We welcome the use of these materials for research, teaching, and study. By use of these digital images, texts, audio, and video recordings, users agree to follow these conditions of use.

  • Responsibility for any use of these materials rests exclusively with the user.

  • Some materials on this site are in the public domain or released under Creative Commons licenses as Free Cultural Works.

  • Some materials on this site may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections often makes it difficult to determine the copyright status of an item. For materials protected by copyright, transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by copyright law requires the written permission of the copyright owners.

  • The use of some materials may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights (see below), licensing, or trademarks.

  • See specific digital collections and items for any applicable license terms.

  • Information is provided with the understanding that its use will not be detrimental to indigenous people or cultures through the appropriation of Native traditions and knowledge, violation of archaeological sites, or damage to plant and animal species.

The Society of American Archivists provides more information on Understanding Copyright and Unpublished Materials.

Using descriptive information

The metadata, which is the factual descriptive information about items on the site, can be freely shared and reused.

Linking to digital items

Anyone is welcome to view and link to any page of this site without further permission. This includes, for example, including a link to a particular page within this site from a syllabus or from a website.

Citing digital items

When using an item from OU Libraries Digital Collections, please provide information about the item so that others can learn about and locate both the digital object and the original item. Please give proper credit to the digital collection, including (where applicable):

  • Identification of the original item;

  • Identification of an item's electronic format, its digital location (persistent link), the date the item was accessed, and the digital collection name and location (URL)

  • Identification of the location of the original item

You can then use your preferred style guide for formatting the citation. The Library of Congress provides additional guidance on citing primary sources.

What about commercial use?

Some materials on this site are in the public domain or released under Creative Commons licenses as Free Cultural Works.

For materials under copyright, you must contact the copyright holders for any commercial use. The OU Libraries will not and cannot give or withhold permission for commercial use of any work in OU Libraries Digital Collections derived from a work under copyright. Using the metadata supplied, please determine the copyright holder and contact them directly.

See also publicity and privacy rights, below.

What are publicity and privacy rights?

Privacy and publicity rights reflect separate and distinct interests from copyright interests. While copyright protects the copyright holder's property rights in the work or intellectual creation, privacy and publicity rights protect the interests of the person(s) who may be the subject(s) of the work or intellectual creation.

Issues pertaining to privacy and publicity may arise when a researcher contemplates the use of letters, diary entries, photographs or reportage in visual, audio, and print formats found in library collections. Because two or more people are often involved in the work (e.g., photographer and subject, interviewer and interviewee) and because of the ease with which various media in digital format can be reused, photographs, audio files, and motion pictures represent materials in which issues of privacy and publicity emerge with some frequency.

While copyright is a federally protected right under the United States Copyright Act, with statutorily described fair use defenses against charges of copyright infringement, neither privacy nor publicity rights are the subject of federal law. Note also that while fair use is a defense to copyright infringement, fair use is not a defense to claims of violation of privacy or publicity rights. Privacy and publicity rights are the subject of state laws. What may be permitted in one state may not be permitted in another. Note also that related causes of action may be pursued under the federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125 (a), for example, for unauthorized uses of a person's identity in order to create a false endorsement.

While an individual's right to privacy generally ends when the individual dies, publicity rights associated with the commercial value connected with an individual's name, image or voice may continue.

Patrons bear the responsibility of making individualized determinations as to whether privacy and publicity rights are implicated by the nature of the materials and how they use such materials.

Know something we don't?

The sometimes obscure nature of historical, archival, and/or primary-source collections can make it difficult to know all the details about the items that appear on this site. OU Libraries provide as much information as is feasible, in accordance with commonly accepted community standards and best practices. Due to the limited resources available for investigating individual items and describing them fully, records may lack accurate and/or complete information about facts such as the item’s exact age, creator, or copyright status.

If you have information about an item on this site that is not represented in the item’s metadata or would like to help correct an error, please contact us.

Need more help?

Please contact us.

Thanks to the following institutions and sites for model language:  Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Biodiversity Heritage Library; Calisphere, California Digital Library, The University of California Libraries; Carleton College; National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution; OPenn, The University of Pennsylvania Libraries; The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries; and Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives Department.