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Amherst College Digital Collections Copyright Guidelines and Terms of Use

Following the principles of the Amherst College Library Mission, the Digital Programs Collection Development Policy, and the ARL Code of Best Practices in Fair Use, it is the objective of Digital Programs and the Amherst College Library to promote use of resources and materials by removing barriers to access. We aim to make our collections widely accessible to anyone who wants to use them within the limits of copyright law, to promote free access to information, and to advocate where possible for the opening of formerly closed materials and collections to public use. In order to achieve these objectives and recognize the value of transparency and consistency when conveying the copyright status of a resource and following best practices for building digital collections, items in Amherst College Digital Collections (ACDC) include a standardized rights statements from or a Creative Commons license in the description.

We are in the process of assigning standardized rights statements to all the items in ACDC. If users encounter a statement in the description of an item that is not reflected in this document it is because the item has not yet been evaluated and the statement updated.


Terms of Use

The material in Amherst College Digital Collections has been made available to support research, teaching, and scholarship. Items within ACDC may be in the public domain, in copyright and made available with permission from copyright holders, or made available under the Fair Use section of U.S. copyright law. Some material is available for use under a Creative Commons license.

We encourage the use of material on this website for research, teaching, and private study. Users are welcome to reproduce (print, make photocopies, duplicate, or download) material from this website, but it is their obligation and responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when reproducing materials found in ACDC and to ensure that the way they are using content from this website conforms with copyright law. Users of this website assume full responsibility for any legal questions that arise from their use of material in these collections.

For more information about copyright, see the library’s Copyright & Fair Use page.

We ask that any publication or use of material from ACDC cite the Amherst College Digital Collections as the source of the images and include the appropriate repository where the original documents can be found (see Citation). If an image from ACDC is used in an online publication or website, we ask that a link to the image in ACDC be provided.

We encourage you to send Archives & Special Collections a copy of any publication in which you reference or quote materials from Archives & Special Collections available in ACDC.


Rights Statements

Please note that the library strives to be as accurate as possible when determining the copyright status of a work being made available in ACDC. However, there may be cases where we were not able to determine the copyright status of an item. If you discover an error or have information about the copyright status of a work please contact us at libdig[at]

Every item in ACDC includes a rights statement from or a Creative Commons license in the item description. That is a good starting place for researchers to determine whether and how that item can be used.

Rights statements from simply communicate the copyright status of an item.

Creative Commons licenses are licenses applied to an item by or with permission from the copyright holder, either an individual, an institution, or a corporation, that allow use under the terms of the license.

The rights statements and licenses in ACDC fall into three categories: statements for works that are not in copyright, statements for works that are in copyright, and statements for works where the copyright status is unclear.

Items in this category are free of any known copyright restrictions under copyright law; these works may be used without requesting permission.

Statements that fall under this category in ACDC include:

Amherst College Digital Programs will make items under copyright available in ACDC when: Amherst College is the copyright holder; permission to digitize is granted from the copyright holder; or for educational, research, and preservation purposes under the terms of fair use. It is the researcher’s responsibility to seek permissions from the copyright holder for their intended use.

In some cases the copyright holder of an item has granted permissions for broad use through a Creative Commons license. Wherever possible Amherst College Library promotes the reuse of materials in ACDC and encourages copyright holders to assign a Creative Commons license to works made available in ACDC.

Additionally, an item may be protected under copyright, but after due diligence it may be determined that the copyright holder is unidentifiable or unlocatable (see Orphan Works).

Statements that fall under this category in ACDC include:

Occasionally items of high research value will be made available in ACDC when the copyright status of a work remains unknown or inconclusive after an effort to determine the copyright status proves unsuccessful, typically due to missing key facts about publication or dates essential to making an accurate copyright status determination. It is the responsibility of researchers to determine how to proceed with use of these items and seek permissions for use when applicable.

Statements that fall under this category in ACDC include:

Orphan Works

An orphan work is a work that is presumably still protected by copyright, but the owner of the copyright cannot be identified or located.

To determine if a work is orphaned, Amherst College Digital Programs and Archives & Special Collections will perform due diligence to identify and locate a copyright holder following the guidelines and strategies outlined in section three of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) "Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices."

A reasonable effort will be made to:

  • Identify the creator of the work
  • Identify the copyright holder of the work
  • Locate the copyright holder of the work
  • Document the process

If, after performing due diligence to identify and locate a copyright holder, a work is determined to be orphaned, Amherst College Digital Programs and Archives & Special Collections may choose to make the work available in ACDC based on the principles outlined in section two of the SAA “Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices.”

Orphan works made available in ACDC will be given the rights statement In Copyright - Rights-holder(s) Unlocatable or Unidentifiable in the item description (see Rights Statements).

Personally Identifiable Information and Privacy

  • As the library reviews collections for digitization, we will do our best to make sure sensitive personally identifiable information is redacted as needed. Each individual collection will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  • The library maintains a rolling embargo for restricted college records. Embargo length is based on the College Records Release policy and restrictions on particular collections. We may extend embargo periods for longer terms on a case by case basis.
  • We will review any potential privacy concerns for a digital collection at the point of project planning and will make determinations about whether materials can be included at that time. We will document decisions made in our project files.
  • For collections connected with Amherst alumni or others affiliated with the college, we may consult with relevant campus offices on any privacy concerns affiliated with those collections.
  • We redact content in our digital collections for privacy concerns on a case by case basis. Please refer to our Take Down policy for how to contact the library to request a redaction.
  • If you wish to view a publically redacted page, contact Archives & Special Collections to inquire about the specific item.

Take Down Policy

We try to identify all material subject to copyright, trademark, and privacy restrictions, and we limit access to such material as appropriate. We strive to be accurate when assigning rights statements to items in our collection. We also make mistakes, and we ask rights holders to contact us immediately if they discover errors on our part.

Copyright owners of material in this collection who wish to challenge ACDC’s use of that material should contact dmca[at] Please include the following:

  1. The name, address, and signature (physical or electronic reproduction) of the rights holder. NOTE: If you are an agent for the rights holder, you must present a statement from the rights holder authorizing you to act on their behalf.
  2. Information sufficient for us to identify the material at issue.
  3. A statement by the rights holder that he or she did not authorize our use of restricted material.
  4. A statement under penalty of perjury that (a) all information in the complaint is accurate and, (b) the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.

For more information about take down and copyright challenges please see the 'Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement' section on the Amherst College Terms & Conditions of Use page.

Indigenous Knowledge

We also strive to be sensitive to privacy concerns and the sharing of indigenous knowledge through material in ACDC. Concerns about privacy or indigenous knowledge in ACDC that should be redacted or taken down should be directed to libdig[at]


Please provide full citations in all references to our material. Citations generally include some or all of the following information depending on the type of item being cited:

  • Title or clear and succinct description of the item
  • Date
  • Shelf location in the collection
  • Collection title
  • Repository information
  • Reference URL

The information for citations can be found within the descriptions in ACDC, the contents portion of the finding aid, and sometimes the physical or digital items.


The following are examples of citations in MLA format for the types of items from each of the three broad categories of digital collections in ACDC.

Archives & Special Collections in ACDC
Charles Darwin letter to Edward Hitchcock, 1845 November 6, in Box 3, Folder 8, Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library. <>
The Octagon
Horton, Nicholas J. Making progress in a crowded market. August 2016. The Amherst College Octagon, Amherst College Library. <>

Further Questions?

Please address all questions about the website and digital content to Digital Programs Department Staff at libdig[at] Any questions about the original archival materials presented here can also be directed to Amherst College Archives & Special Collections at archives[at]