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Visit the Copyright help section for frequently asked questions about copyright and access in HathiTrust, including information about the impact of Golan v. Holder.

HathiTrust is devoted to an array of archival and access services in support of the record of human knowledge. All objects in the archive are either in the public domain, have the necessary permissions to support the level of access afforded, or are simply archived in such a way as to ensure an enduring copy of the content. HathiTrust only provides reading access to those publications where permitted by law or by the rights holder. In cases where a rights holder has granted HathiTrust permission to provide reading access to a publication, HathiTrust retains a record of those permissions (see the Creative Commons Declaration Form). Similarly, when partner institutions or organizations deposit materials in the archive, a Digital Assets Submission Inventory is kept on file.

Access policies are exercised using IP address detection, user authentication, and geography detection in conjunction with the determined copyright status of each item stored in the rights database. These policies are implemented in the PageTurner application.

Copyright status is initially determined by information in the bibliographic record (see Bibliographic Rights Determination). Volumes that are published in the US prior to 1928, or published elsewhere before 1898, as well as most US federal government documents are treated as public domain. In addition, volumes published outside the US from 1898 through 1927 are treated as public domain for users accessing the volumes from US IP addresses; however, they are treated as in-copyright for users that come from non-US IP addresses.

There are, however, situations where the initial bibliographic determination may be revised from in-copyright to public domain, for instance, if the copyright holder failed to renew the copyright (for works published in the US between 1928 and 1963) or failed to include a valid copyright notice (for works published in the US between 1928 and 1977). See the Copyright Review Management System, United States (CRMS-US) and Copyright Review Management System, World (CRMS-World) projects for more information. In addition, under Section 108 of the US Code (Reproduction by Libraries and Archives), volumes that are damaged or deteriorating, and for which an unused replacement copy cannot be obtained at a fair price, may be made available online on Library premises only.

All other forms of access (e.g., computational research) are conducted in light of US copyright law and with the guidance of the University of Michigan’s Office of the General Counsel. Detailed descriptions of the rights database and the PageTurner access implementation are available. HathiTrust’s policy governing procedures for responding to copyright complaints is set forth in the University of Michigan Library’s Take-Down Policy. Please see also the HathiTrust Access and Use Policy for items in the repository.

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