Copyrights, Trademarks, Restricted Materials

If reproducing a document, or visual elements included within a document, would violate copyright/trademark laws or District policy, it will be returned to the sender. Document Services requires written permission from the copyright owner in order to reproduce any copyrighted materials.

What is a copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.  This protection is available to both published and unpublished works and generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
  • To reproduce the work;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly;
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly.
It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright.

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form.  The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work.

Ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, photograph, computer software program or a copy of such items does not give the possessor of these items the right to copy them.

Copyrights also protect works on the internet and The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the internet.  (

What is not protected?
Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection, including:
  • Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression
  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration
  • Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, etc.)
Fair Use
Under “fair use” unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted materials is permissible for such purposes as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.
  • The use must be for purposes as teaching or scholarship and must be nonprofit.
  • Single copies for use in research, instruction or preparation for teaching: book chapters, articles from periodicals or newspapers, short stories, essays or poems, and charts, graphs, diagrams, drawings, cartoons or pictures from books, periodicals, or newspapers.
  • Copying the whole of a work can’t be considered fair use: copying a small portion may be if guidelines are followed.
If resulting economic loss to the copyright holder can be shown, even making a single copy of certain materials may be infringement.

Copyright Notice

The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial.  

Names, words, and designs used to identify services or products such as Coca-Cola®, XEROX®, etc. are considered trademarks, service marks and/or logos.  The owner of a trademark, service mark or logo has the exclusive right to use or reproduce it.

Restricted Materials
Materials which are negotiable, or which can be used for identification purposes are considered restricted materials.  No restricted materials may be scanned.

Negotiable Instruments
The following materials can only be copied in black and white, single-sided and must be reduced to 75% or enlarged to 150% of its original size:
  • Paper Currency
  • Travelers Checks
  • Money Orders
  • Checks/Drafts
  • Internal Revenue Stamps
  • Postage Stamps
    (Designs are copyrighted by the U.S. Postal Service. Refer to Copyright Protocol when making color copies.)
  • Treasury Notes
  • Bonds
  • Gold Certificates
  • Register Receipts and Tapes
  • Identification
The following items can only be copied in black and white:
• Passports • Automobile Certificates of Title
• Badges • Parking Permits
• Diplomas • Driver's Licenses
• Signatures • Identification Cards
• Immigration Papers
• Birth Certificates
• Certificates of U.S.Citizenship • School Transcripts
• Transportation Tickets

More information regarding copyrights can be obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office at (202) 707-5959 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free) or on the web (includes laws, registration, searchable records, and more) at

For information regarding trademarks,
contact the United States Patent and Trademark Office at 1-800-786-9199 (toll-free) or on the web at

For information regarding restricted materials,
contact the United States Treasury Department at (202) 874-8880.