U.S. Newspapers and Copyright

If you plan to digitize a US newspaper published after 1922, you need to understand copyright law.  Any newspaper issue published before 1923 is out of copyright and can be freely reproduced.  Newspapers published after 1922 are potentially copyrighted and can only be digitized if their copyright was not renewed and a copyright notice was not provided in the paper. They can also be digitized with permission from the current copyright holder.  The CDNC has focused on pre-1923 newspapers mainly because they are clearly out of copyright, but we are willing to digitize and host post-1922 issues so long as they are clearly not copyrighted.

There is much information on the web about newspapers and copyright, so instead of summarizing it again, we are providing links to resources we think are especially useful.

Understanding Newspapers and Copyright

The Legal Genealogist Blog has a good overview:

The Copyright site at Cornell has a more succinct summary:

Obtaining Copyright Permission

As the Legal Genealogist notes, if the newspaper is still in publication we would advise that you first contact the publisher for permission to reproduce issues. If they agree to permit digitization of post-1922 issues, you can have them complete and sign this draft permissions document: Copyright Sample Document. Please contact us for help completing the letter.

Researching and Certifying Research

If the paper is no longer in publication or you can't identify the current copyright holder, you need to do some research.  The Legal Genealogist lists a number of sites, including the Online Books page at UPenn: If you decide to digitize and then host in-copyright newspapers in the CDNC, we will ask you to sign a waiver that you have researched copyright, concluded that the title or titles in question have not had copyright renewed, and that you accept responsibility for any possible copyright infringement.  The draft waiver is available here: Waiver of Liability

Please feel free to contact us at with any questions.