Before copyrighted works can be digitized, distribution rights must be procured from the copyright holder assuming the work has not passed into the Public Domain.

Note: Publications often include separately copyrighted illustrations. Check illustration credits, verify their copyright status, and seek additional permissions as necessary.

The Digital Library Center most frequently seeks "non-exclusive" "Internet Distribution Rights" for an unlimited term. A grant of non-exclusive rights leaves the copyright holder the ability to grant distribution rights with others. "Internet Distribution Rights" limits dissemination to the World Wide Web.

If rights to other distribution formats are sought or anticipated, they should also be requested with specific mention of the distribution format, e.g., "CD-ROM/DVD Distribution Rights", "Print Distribution Rights", or more broadly, "Electronic Distribution Rights". Distribution rights transfer a privileged use of a copyrighted work rather than the copyright, which remains with the copyright holder.

Use the following documents as templates.

Permission Request Letter

University of Florida wordmark

Digital Library Center
George A. Smathers Libraries
P.O. Box 117007
Gainesville, FL 32611-7007


Telephone: 352.846.0129
FAX: 352.846.3702

Dear [Copyright Holder],

The Digital Library Center at the University of Florida is a nonprofit center responsible for the collection and preservation of digital resources for education.

The following title(s), protected by your copyright, has been identified as important to the educational mission of the University.

[Author] . [Title]. [Publication Place] : [Publisher], [Publication Date].

The University of Florida, on behalf of the State of Florida, respectfully requests non-exclusive rights to digitize the title(s) for Internet distribution in image and text formats for an unlimited term. We would be happy to negotiate terms should you require a more restrictive grant of permissions. Digitized versions will be made available via the Internet, for on-line and off-line educational use, with a copyright statement identifying your rights as copyright holder and the terms of the grant of permissions.

Please review, modify, sign and return the attached grant of permissions. Please do not hesitate to call me or email your questions.

[Your Signature]
[Your Typed Name]
[Your Title]

cc: DLC copyright clearance file


Grant Permissions


In reference to the following title(s):

[Author]. [Title]. [Publication Place] : [Publisher], [Publication Date].

I, ____________________________________, as copyright holder or licensee with the authority to grant copyright permissions for the aforementioned title(s), hereby authorize the University of Florida, acting on behalf of the State of Florida, to digitize and distribute the title(s) for nonprofit, educational purposes via the Internet or successive technologies.

This is a non-exclusive grant of permissions for on-line and off-line use for an indefinite term. Off-line uses shall be consistent either, for educational uses, with the terms of U.S. copyright legislation's "fair use" provisions or, by the University of Florida, with the maintenance and preservation of an archival copy. Digitization allows the University of Florida to generate image- and text-based versions as appropriate and to provide and enhance access using search software.

This grant of permissions prohibits use of the digitized versions for commercial use or profit.


Signature of Copyright Holder


Printed or Typed Name of Copyright Holder


Date of Signature




Public Domain refers to those works not protected by copyright law.  Items in Public Domain fall into any of a number of categories.  Barring a search of copyright files maintained by the Library of Congress, risk management is involved in determining what may or may not be in Public Domain.

Categories of Public Domain Materials
Works that have not been written or recorded (i.e., fixed in a tangible form of expression);
  Risk Management: A work may be subsequently written or recorded. In the context of building a digital resource, the very act of digitizing the work employs recording methods that effectively copyright the work under current copyright legislation. Ownership of the copyright without clear written consent may be questionable.
Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring;
  Risk Management: While not copyrighted, items in this category may be registered or trademarked.

Trademark Search (U.S.A.): United States Patent and Trademark Office

  Some U.S. states maintain additional databases of trademarks and registered business names.
Trademark Search (Canada): Canadian Trademark Database
Trademark Search (U.K.): The Patent Office
Trademark Search (Other Nations): WIPO Trademark Database Portal
List of ingredients or contents, as well as, blank forms
  Risk Management: Instructions and text surrounding these items may be copyrighted. Lists given in the forms of poems and other literary works or recorded performance may be copyrights as part of the work or performance.
Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration
  Risk Management: When these items together with a description, explanation or illustration become fixed in a tangible medium, written or recorded, they become protected under current copyright legislation or they may be patented.

Patent Search (U.S.A.): United States Patent and Trademark Office

Patent Search (Canada): Canadian Patent Database
Patent Search (U.K.): The Patent Office
Work consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)
  Risk Management: 
Works by the U.S. government (only within the U.S.A.)
  Risk Management: In the context of digital resources made available on the World Wide Web, this exception has global implications. The U.S. government grants relatively unrestricted use of its publications to its own citizens. U.S. goverment documents are not necessarily in Public Domain outside the U.S.A.
Recommended Copyright Notice for use with U.S. government documents: "Copyright [year], [Government Agency Name], except in the U.S.A."
Works that have exceeded the period of copyright protection.
  Risk Management: For aid in determining when a title passes into the Public Domain, consult the Cornell Institute for Digital Collections' "When Works Pass Into the Public Domain in the United States: Copyright Term for Archivists" (