In Copyright Content

BHL provides access to hundreds of in-copyright titles throughout our collection. Copyright holders have granted BHL consortium partners permission to include their content by way of an express agreement. In some cases, individual partner institutions within the BHL Consortium have acquired permission to digitize directly with copyright holders independent of BHL. If you are a copyright holder that would like to contribute content to the BHL collection, please see more information.

The majority of in-copyright items are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. In rare cases, you may also notice in-copyright content made available under different licensing terms. Works in the BHL collection that are protected by copyright are designated by the following rights statement:

In copyright. Digitized with the permission of the rights holder.
example of copyright statement in the biodiversity heritage library

To locate this rights statement, available in the <Copyright status> field, click on the “+” next to the volume/book link. Commercial use of CC BY-NC-SA content is strictly prohibited, however you are free to access, and download this content just as you would other, public domain works in the BHL collection. Should you wish to reuse any in-copyright content in the BHL collection for commercial purposes, you must contact rights holder directly. For a list of rights holders, please see the table below.

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Content provided under Due Diligence

In some cases, BHL has provided access to works under the following designation:

No known copyright restrictions as determined by scanning institution.

Works may fall under the “no known copyright restrictions as determined by scanning institution” designation, for the following reasons:

  • the copyright has expired
  • the copyright may have existed at one point but was not renewed
  • there is no marking or indication of copyright on the material
  • a sufficient and diligent search has been performed to determine that the copyright holder(s) cannot be located or identified

If a valid copyright claim is presented for these items, BHL will remove the content.

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Archival Materials

Through projects like Connecting Content and the Smithsonian Field Books Project, archival materials are being scanned to the BHL. For the majority of these unpublished materials, copyright restrictions apply. Each item has been reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the appropriate copyright status is indicated for each. These materials may be licensed under the Creative Commons NC-BY-SA license and may not be used for commercial purposes. Check the individual volume’s metadata for more details.

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Take-Down Guidelines

The BHL makes every effort to provide content within its collection that is freely and openly available for access and responsible reuse either under the public domain or a Creative Commons license. In-copyright materials are in the BHL collection with the express permission of the copyright holder. In rare cases, content may be removed if it is found to be in violation of copyright. Should a copyright holder make the BHL aware of a potential infringement of copyright, the BHL will confirm the claim and remove the content from its database (including the <biodiversity> collection of the Internet Archive). Works ingested from the Internet Archive corpus that are digitized by libraries other than BHL consortium libraries are the responsibility of the contributing library and not the BHL.

For the United States, the copyright cut-off date is 1923, meaning that worked published prior to this date are in the public domain and are not restricted from access or reuse in the United States. Earlier dates may apply in some cases. If you are outside the U.S., you will need to review the copyright laws of the country where you plan to use the materials. Post-1922 content is available in BHL for one or more of the following reasons:

For more information about U.S. copyright, please consult Peter B. Hirtle’s Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States. For any questions or concerns regarding the BHL collection and copyright, please contact the BHL Secretariat.

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In-copyright Titles

Link to document



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