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Copyright at the MSU Library

General guidelines for copyright

Montana State University

Information in this Library Guide is for general information only.  For legal advice, contact MSU's Office of Legal Counsel.  Legal Counsel also has a website for Guidelines for Classroom Copying of Books and Periodicals.

Copying and Scanning

U.S. Copyright Law governs the use of all copyrighted materials, including the making of photocopies and electronic reproductions of materials in any format.  The reproduction of copyrighted works, including photocopying, scanning, etc, is governed primarily by Fair Use, Section 107 of U.S. copyright law. Some material reproduction is governed by Section 108, the Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Reproduction by Libraries and Archives.


The making of photocopies and electronic reproductions from all books and journals under copyright is primarily governed by Fair Use, Section 107 of U.S. copyright law. All reproductions of copyrighted material in any form must be in compliance with U.S. Copyright Law.


The original form determines the copyright restrictions on that document, unless the producers of the microfilm/microfiche own the copyright.

Government Documents

Most federal government documents are in the Public Domain and therefore may be freely reproduced or re-used.

 Section 105 of U.S. copyright law states "copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise."  

EXCEPTIONS: Foreign government documents, state government documents, works produced under contract with the U.S. government, and documents created by inter-governmental agencies such as the UN, are NOT in the public domain. These materials may be reproduced in compliance with Fair Use, Section 107 of U.S. copyright law.


Maps produced by the U.S. federal government are in the Public Domain, and may be freely reproduced or re-used. This most commonly includes maps produced by the U.S.G.S., U.S.D.A., N.O.S, N.O.A.A., N.P.S. and the Census Bureau.

All commercially produced maps under copyright are governed by Title 17 of U.S. Copyright Law.