Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
>>   Library Miscellany
TAGS: Copyright and trademarks
> add tags
Notes about various copyright schemes followed by the Bahá'í Library Online, with links to the US Library of Congress' copyright information website.
On the copyright of Sacred Writings and material produced by Bahá'í Publishing Trusts, see nsa_copyright, uhj_permission_electronic_texts, and

Notes on Copyright

by Jonah Winters and Brett Zamir

  1. non-copyrighted works published online at the Bahá'í Library
  2. copyright of other texts
  3. options for submissions to the Bahá'í Library Online
This library is an independent, all-volunteer project. It and its content are unofficial and not sponsored or endorsed by any Bahá'í institution. It is not affiliated with the Bahá'í Reference Library. For official Bahá'í starting points, try or
If you are an author, descendant of an author, or a publisher and suspect that any item on this site violates your copyright, please contact us.

1. un-copyrighted works (articles published online at the Bahá'í Library)

Contributors to this website have different philosophies about the redistribution of their work. Many consider a piece to be public domain as soon as it is posted online, and don't mind it being redistributed. Others wish to be notified and asked for permission before anything is posted or printed elsewhere. To be safe, contact authors and seek permission before redistributing or re-posting these texts. If you do not know how to reach an author, contact us. If you see anything here that you think infringes on a copyright, let us know.

For an in-depth overview of the nature of copyright in the Internet age, see the National Research Council's report "The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age" at

2. on the copyright of other texts

Copyright can be a tricky issue, as laws change periodically and are sometimes retroactive. Indeed, the file, excerpted below, even states that "It is still uncertain how far a library may go under the Copyright Act of 1909 in supplying a photocopy of copy-righted material in its collection." We at the Bahá'í Library Online have been very careful to request posting permission from the author and/or the publisher of every item here, and will distribute no texts that are copyrighted for which we haven't received permission. If any item is found that might violate copyright law, or if we've made any other mistakes in this regard, please contact us.

Sacred Writings, the works of the Guardian, materials produced by World Centre Publications, or the Bahá'í International Community may, according to an official statement by the Universal House of Justice, be reproduced electronically. See also Bahá'í Reference Library sharing terms and the BIC copyright statement.

Regarding published articles, most journals explicitly allow authors to post pre-publication drafts of their articles, and many even allow authors to share post-edited content. (See a good discussion of these issues in Slashdot's discussion Half of All Research Papers Published In 2011 Already Free To Read.)

Below we have excerpted documents from the US Copyright Office Home Page on the issues of:
      (1) Fair Use
      (2) Reproduction by Libraries and Archives
      (3) Duration of Copyright Protection

As can be seen below, copyright may have expired on works published before 1977 (2005 minus 28 years), and anything published before 1923 is now public domain: see a comparison chart at In some cases a copyright search needs to be done: see, "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work."

2a. Fair Use

excerpted from

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

2b. Reproduction by Libraries and Archives

excerpted from

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement of copyright for a library or archives, or any of its employees acting within the scope of their employment, to reproduce no more than one copy or phonorecord of a work, or to distribute such copy or phonorecord, under the conditions specified by this section, if—

  1. the reproduction or distribution is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage;
  2. the collections of the library or archives are (i) open to the public, or (ii) available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives or with the institution of which it is a part, but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field; and
  3. the reproduction or distribution of the work includes a notice of copyright.
(b) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to a copy or phonorecord of an unpublished work duplicated in facsimile form solely for purposes of preservation and security or for deposit for research use in another library or archives of the type described by clause (2) of subsection (a), if the copy or phonorecord reproduced is currently in the collections of the library or archives.

(c) The right of reproduction under this section applies to a copy or phonorecord of a published work duplicated in facsimile form solely for the purpose of replacement of a copy or phonorecord that is damaged, deteriorating, lost, or stolen, if the library or archives has, after a reasonable effort, determined that an unused replacement cannot be obtained at a fair price.

(d) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to a copy, made from the collection of a library or archives where the user makes his or her request or from that of another library or archives, of no more than one article or other contribution to a copyrighted collection or periodical issue, or to a copy or phonorecord of a small part of any other copyrighted work, if—

  1. the copy or phonorecord becomes the property of the user, and the library or archives has had no notice that the copy or phonorecord would be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research; and
  2. the library or archives displays prominently, at the place where orders are accepted, and includes on its order form, a warning of copyright in accordance with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation.
(e) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to the entire work, or to a substantial part of it, made from the collection of a library or archives where the user makes his or her request or from that of another library or archives, if the library or archives. has first determined, on the basis of a reasonable investigation, that a copy or phonorecord of the copyrighted work cannot be obtained at a fair price, if—
  1. the copy or phonorecord becomes the property of the user, and the library or archives has had no notice that the copy or phonorecord would be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research; and
  2. the library or archives displays prominently, at the place where orders are accepted, and includes on its order form, a warning of copyright in accordance with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation.

2c. Duration of Copyright Protection

excerpted from

i. Works Originally Copyrighted On or After January 1, 1978

A work that is created and fixed in tangible form for the first time on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of "a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire," the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death. For works made for hire and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author's identity is revealed in the Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is less. Works created before the 1976 law came into effect but neither published nor registered for copyright before January 1, 1978, have been automatically brought under the statute and are now given federal copyright protection. The duration of copyright in these works will generally be computed in the same way as for new works: the life-plus-70 or 95/120-year terms will apply. However, all works in this category are guaranteed at least 25 years of statutory protection.

ii. Works Copyrighted Before January 1, 1978

Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published with notice of copyright or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either case, copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date on which it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal. The copyright law extends the renewal term from 28 to 67 years for copyrights in existence on January 1, 1978. However, for works copyrighted prior to January 1, 1964, the copyright still must have been renewed in the 28th calendar year to receive the 67-year period of added protection. The amending legislation enacted June 26, 1992, automatically extends this second term for works first copyrighted between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977. For more detailed information on the copyright term, write or call the Copyright Office and request Circular 15a, "Duration of Copyright," and Circular 15t, "Extension of Copyright Terms."

3. Copyright options for submissions to the Bahá'í Library Online, by Brett Zamir

When submitting a document to the Bahá'í Library Online, you have a number of options for copyright on our upload page (you will need to register to be able to upload a document). You can also provide supplemental information in our upload form (which will be visible to site visitors) regarding the license type you have chosen; some licenses as the Attribution-ShareAlike license allow authors to spell out how the license should work. This latter license type, for example, would allow an author to state exactly how others would need to attribute credit to the author if others wished to use or redistribute his work. If your desired license is not listed in the menu options, choose "Other" and then provide explanatory information.

Please note that you must respect the current copyright status of others' material, while you are free to choose any license type for your own work.

Anyone noting a mislabeling of copyright type or a copyright infringement, please notify us so that we can address it promptly.

Reference is made below to legal licenses originated by the Creative Commons and Free Software Foundation organizations. Please read the full licenses to make sure that our description here is adequate. The information provided on our site does not constitute legal advice, and we cannot be held liable for any results of your use of the information we provide here.

We at Bahá'í Library Online would especially like to draw your attention to the more liberal licenses, in the event you are willing to submit your work under these conditions. As many people create their works simply as a service to humanity, we feel that contributors to our site might also strongly consider releasing their material under one of these licenses to allow others to more easily build upon what they have done and not need to pay for the right to use the material, ask for permission, etc. Nevertheless, we also understand the need of people to be able to make a living and that some for other reasons may wish to maintain control over the usage of their work, so we are grateful for any work submissions (or portions of works) that you can offer for our site to use, even if you wish to restrict how the work is used (such as whether it can be modified and redistributed).

The first option listed on the upload page is "public domain". This license type allows anyone to reuse, modify, republish, etc. the material without restrictions. Although public domain is often considered in the context of documents published 70 years ago, a new work can also be released by the author under this type of license. You can see such a license here. This type of license might be suitable in situations where you would be happy to see your work be put to use by anyone now or in the future, even if they were to republish your work without credit or compensation to you.

A slightly stricter license type is the Creative Commons "Attribution-ShareAlike" license. This license type, as with public domain, allows the work in question to be modified and/or redistributed, but it stipulates a requirement that some kind of credit be given to the author.

Another type of license is the GNU Free Documentation License. This license allows free modifications and/or redistribution of the work in question but also requires that any derivative works give the same right to others for modification and redistribution. This has been in used in projects such as Wikipedia to prevent companies from "hijacking" a project by improving upon the free work but then restricting access to the new work.

Yet another type is the Non-commerical license. This license restricts reuse or redistribution of the work to non-commercial purposes. The Non-commerical, NoDerivs license operates in the same way but does not allow derivative works to be made of the original work.

Another type of license is the Creative Commons "Developing Nations" license. This license continues strict copyright in "high income" nations, but allows free use within "developing nations" (these being determined as listed by the World Bank).

Yet another license is the Founders' copyright. This license requires registration with the Creative Commons (we are not affiliated with this organization) and aims to provide strict copyright, but with only a 14-year duration.

The Creative Commons Sampling license allows for people to reuse portions of your work, but not your entire work (this is more liberal than "fair use" as it explicitly allows sampling, but it is still not allowing reuse of the whole work).

With all of these licenses, one still can have the ability to modify one's own work, and redistribute that derivative work, even to apply copyright to it (or at least to the portions which you have added since releasing the earlier item under a more liberal license).

Back to:   Library Miscellany
Home Site Map Links Copyright About Contact
. .