Rights and Reproduction


The Smithsonian Institution Archives permits the use of digital and photographic reproductions of its collection materials according to applicable rights and restrictions. Individuals or organizations that would like to obtain a reproduction must first obtain permission from the Archives unless otherwise indicated on this website. 

The Archives also serves as the physical custodian to photographic material held by other Smithsonian curatorial units. Researchers are responsible for working with the unit to secure permission for the use of that material. Separate fees may be assessed by the owning curatorial unit and/or the Archives.

  • Allowable Uses
  • Copyright, Rights, and Restrictions
  • Copyright Resources
  • No Known Copyright Restrictions
  • Allowable Uses

    We permit and encourage personal and educational use for unrestricted collection documents, images, audio, and video. High quality or high-resolution versions are available on request, for these purposes, with associated fees for duplication and delivery, and in some cases, digitization when the item hasn’t been previously digitized. Note that visitors can use collections already available online for personal and educational use without special permission from the Archives (Visit the Smithsonian Institution Archives Collections Search to see digitized collections to date).  If you’d like, the Archives would like to hear how our collections have helped in your research and projects, so please contact us to let us know.

    Use of the Archives’ images, audio, and video materials for publication, commercial use, or distribution requires written permission and licensing from the Archives. Licensing for some materials may also require approval of the Smithsonian Office of Contracting or Office of Product Development and Licensing. Licensing fees apply in addition to any digitization, duplication, and delivery fees. Waivers for licensing fees for non-profit and scholarly projects may be granted at the Archives’ discretion. To request licensing authorization, fill out our rights & reproduction request form.

    Use of the Archives’ restricted images, audio, and video collections material requires special written authorization from the Archives and may also require authorization from other parties depending on the material.

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    Copyright, Rights, and Restrictions

    The Archives’ collections are obtained from many sources and are intended primarily for research and educational purposes. Certain works may be protected by copyright, trademark, or related interests not governed by the Smithsonian Institution. Permission for use will be granted only to the extent of the Smithsonian Institution's ownership of the rights relating to your particular interest. The responsibility for ascertaining whether any additional rights exist, and for obtaining all necessary permissions, remains with the researcher. See the Smithsonian Institution’s Terms of Use and Copyright Policies for more information.

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    Copyright Resources

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    No Known Copyright Restrictions

    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.

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