The Smithsonian Institution:
May I put Smithsonian Content on my personal website, blog or my Facebook® (or other social networking) page?
Yes, so long as you:
- Identify the author and source of the Content;
- Do not remove any copyright, trademark, or other notices that are placed in or near the Content you use;
- Do not use the Content to promote, advertise, or sell your own products or services or for any other commercial or unauthorized purpose; and
- Comply with any other terms or restrictions that may be applicable to the Content.
Is it an unauthorized use if the host of my website or blog adds advertising to my website or blog?
If I find Smithsonian Content on a website such as the Flickr Commons and the Content is described as having “no known copyright restriction,” how may I use the Content?
The phrase “no known copyright restriction” means that the Smithsonian has determined, to the best of its ability based on available information, that the Content is unlikely to be protected by copyright interests and, in all likelihood, is in the public domain. However, copyright is often difficult to determine with certainty, so the phrase is intended to say that the Smithsonian is unaware of any copyright restriction, but such restrictions may still exist. In addition, even if the Content is unrestricted from a copyright standpoint, there may be other considerations that would limit your use, such as rights of privacy or publicity of the individuals featured in the images, or contractual restrictions. For these reasons, the Smithsonian makes its content available for personal and non-commercial educational uses consistent with the principles of fair use. If you decide to use the Content for commercial or other purposes without undertaking to clear all rights, you will be responsible if someone else owns the rights and the owner objects to your use.
What is fair use?
In many countries, certain uses of copyright-protected works do not infringe the copyright owner’s rights. For example, in the United States, copyright rights are limited by the doctrine of “fair use,” under which certain uses of copyrighted material for criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research may be considered fair. U.S. judges determine whether a fair use defense is valid according to four factors, which we’ve listed below for educational purposes. In some other countries, there is a similar concept called “fair dealing” that may be applied differently.
Remember, it is your responsibility to understand the relevant law and whether it protects the use you have in mind. If you plan to use copyrighted material you didn’t create, we’d strongly advise you to take legal advice first. YouTube cannot provide legal advice or make legal determinations.
The four factors of fair use:
1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
Courts typically focus on whether the use is “transformative.” That is, whether it adds new expression or meaning to the original, or whether it merely copies from the original.
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
Using material from primarily factual works is more likely to be fair than using purely fictional works.
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
Borrowing small bits of material from an original work is more likely to be considered fair use than borrowing large portions. However, even a small taking may weigh against fair use in some situations if it constitutes the “heart” of the work.
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
Uses that harm the copyright owner’s ability to profit from his or her original work are less likely to be fair uses. Courts have sometimes made an exception under this factor in cases involving parodies.