Flowchart for Copyrights

A number of helpful flowcharts are available online to assist you with evaluating various copyright questions. Keep in mind that copyright law is complex and few bright line answers exist. These flow charts are tools and should not substitute for individual judgment based on specific facts.

Determining Whether a Work is in the Public Domain

Public Domain Handbook - Generally, works created before 1923 are out of copyright, and those created in, or after, 1978 are protected by copyright. This handbook provides descriptions and flowcharts to determine whether works created from 1923 to 1977 are protected by copyright or have lapsed into the public domain.

Interactive Digital Slider - This interactive slider is another tool for determining whether a work is still protected by copyright, and encompasses works created before 1923 and after 1977, as well.

Copyright Chart - A chart detailing the copyright status of published works, unpublished works, sound recordings, and architectural works, for both works first published inside the United States and in other nations.

Library Use

Spinner Tool - An interactive tool to assist libraries and archives in determining what use and copying of their materials is allowed under section 108 of the Copyright Act.


Copyright Review Flow Chart - A flowchart useful for determining whether certain works can be digitized for a distance learning environment.