Permissions & Copyright

In general, the creator (such as an author, artist, and/or photographer) of materials owns copyright. While Middlebury College Special Collections owns the physical materials in our care, we do not necessarily own the copyright, unless this has been transferred to us by the creator. Even in cases where the primary creator of a collection has transferred copyright, there may be third-party materials in that collection to which copyright was never transferred. Granting permission to publish materials is a relationship solely between the researcher and the creator.

We will gladly share any information we do have about copyright holders in our collections. However, we are not able to do any additional research in regards to rights information and do not facilitate or execute requests for permission.

We generally do not issue licenses for commercial re-use. Whenever possible, we assign one of twelve rights statements supported by Please contact us to learn more about these standardized rights statements.

In most cases, Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives does not hold the copyright to its materials and cannot grant or deny permission to use them. Accordingly, you are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of any materials you may wish to use, to investigate the owner of the copyright, and to obtain permission for your intended use. We ask that you cite Middlebury as the source of the materials with the appropriate credit line provided and the bottom of this page.

Whenever possible, Special Collections provides factual information about copyright owners. If you have more information about any of our material, we would appreciate hearing from you. If you are the copyright owner and believe we have not properly attributed your work or have used it without your authorization, please contact us at


Public Domain and Fair Use

Middlebury College Special Collections welcomes you to use materials in the public domain. (Cornell University publishes a chart that may help you to identify what is and is not in the public domain in the United States.)

The United States copyright law contains an exception for fair use of copyrighted materials, which includes the use of copyrighted materials for certain purposes of teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and news reporting. For guidelines on the fair use exception, please refer to the United States Copyright Office.

You are solely responsible for determining whether your use is fair and for responding to any claims that may arise from your use. By using materials from our collections, you agree and warrant that your use will not violate the rights of any person or entity. If you use or reproduce our materials in any format, we ask that the Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives be cited as the source of the material with the appropriate credit line found at the bottom of this page.

Researching copyright

The U.S. Copyright Office has provided information about How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work. When you cannot identify or locate the current copyright owner of a copyrighted work, the copyrighted material is sometimes called an “orphan work.” Columbia University Libraries has provided advice about documenting searches for copyright owners and potentially using orphan works.

WATCH File: The WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) is a database containing primarily the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.


Privacy, Publicity, and Third Party Rights

The rights of privacy and publicity are separate and distinct issues from copyright. While copyright laws protect the copyright owner's property rights in the work, privacy and publicity rights protect the interests of the individuals who are the subject of the work. The right of publicity is a person’s right to control, and profit from, the use of his or her name, image and likeness. This means that any use of a person’s name, image or likeness for commercial gain is not permitted without his or her consent. The right of privacy is a person’s right to live outside of the public eye and free from the publicizing of intimate details of his or her life, which means that directing unwanted public attention to a person may give rise to a cause of action. Keep in mind that while a person's right to privacy generally ends with his or her death, publicity rights associated with the commercial value of that person’s name, image, or likeness may continue after their death. For example, many estates and representatives of famous deceased authors, photographers, celebrities, and other well-known figures continue to control and license use of their names and likenesses.

Unlike copyright, which is subject to the federal Copyright Act of 1976, privacy and publicity rights are subject to state laws; hence, what may be permitted in one state may not be permitted in another. Although fair use is a defense to copyright infringement, it is not a defense to claims alleging violation of privacy or publicity rights. Issues pertaining to privacy and publicity may arise when you contemplate the use of the materials in Middlebury College’s special collections. For instance, if you want to download a copyrighted photograph containing the name or likeness of one or more individuals for use in a paper you plan to publish, in addition to determining whether your use requires consent from the copyright holder, you may also need to secure the consent of the people who appear in the photograph in order to comply with state privacy and publicity laws.

Crediting Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives

We ask that you cite Middlebury College as the source of the original material with the credit line below. For more help formatting citations, visit Citation Styles.

Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives, Middlebury, Vermont

Please email us with any concerns or questions at