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Materials Use Policy

General terms of access

The Harry Ransom Center's Materials Use Policy balances the needs of researchers, the exclusive rights of copyright holders, and the Center's own rights and responsibilities toward its collections.

Researchers have equal access to the collections, subject to uniformly enforced restrictions placed on materials by acquisition agreement, statutory authority, or by the Center itself for the processing, preservation, or servicing of its collections. Ransom Center staff reserve the right to permit or restrict access, handling, and reproduction of collection materials. For security reasons, the Center limits personal belongings that may be brought into teaching spaces and the Reading and Viewing Room. Personal belongings must be stored outside these areas. For details, see the Center's Reading and Viewing Room Guidelines.

Researchers working onsite must show current photo identification. University of Texas affiliation or letters of reference are not required. The Center may require researchers of high school age or younger to be accompanied by an adult.

All researchers, whether working onsite or working offsite, must first create an online Research Account.

Reproduction

  • Researchers in the Reading and Viewing Room may take their own digital photographs of materials, subject to the Center's Camera Use Policy, or may request reproduction—including of audio and moving image materials—by Center staff. Fees for this service are assessed on a partial cost-recovery basis.
  • Some materials cannot be photographed or otherwise reproduced by either researchers or the Center's staff due, for instance, to copying restrictions placed on them by acquisition agreement, donors, depositors, or by the Center for processing, preservation, or servicing of its collections.
  • Reproduction requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. Requests are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. The Center may choose to deny, delay, or limit reproduction requests, if fulfillment encroaches on effective and equitable service to other users. The Center reserves the right to refuse to accept a research copy request if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the request would violate copyright law. The Center is unable to digitize an entire archive on demand.
  • Normal turn-around time for reproduction requests is two to six weeks depending on such factors as complexity of the order, format of the original, condition, or fragility. Rush orders are accepted at the Center's discretion and are subject to additional charges.
  • Off-site researchers needing access to large quantities of materials should plan to conduct research onsite and are invited to apply for a fellowship, or to hire a proxy researcher.
  • The Center provides research copies and permits patron photography within fair use and other provisions of U.S. Copyright Law.
  • Reproductions provided by the Center in any format may not be further reproduced, sold, shared, or given to another person, company, or institution for any purpose without the written permission of the Center.
  • For use of reproductions of Center materials in a print or online publication, performance, broadcast, or motion picture or sound recording, we recommend researchers order high-quality digital reproductions from the Center. Fees for this service are assessed on a partial cost-recovery basis.
  • Researchers making or receiving reproductions of collection material accept full responsibility for any infringement of copyright and should seek legal counsel if they have questions about copyright liability.

Publication

  • Researchers are responsible for determining the copyright status of collection materials prior to publication, including publication online or via social media platforms. If copyright law or other restrictions apply, researchers are responsible for obtaining necessary permission from any rights holders. The Center maintains the online WATCH database identifying some copyright holders, a guide to locating those not listed, and other copyright resources, including a list of collections for which the Center holds copyright.
  • Ransom Center collection materials that are in the public domain may be used and published without restriction, and are not subject to publication or use fees.
  • For collection materials not in the public domain, authorization to publish, use, quote extensively from, or exhibit facsimiles must be obtained in advance and in writing from the Harry Ransom Center by completing the Notification of Intent form.
  • Independent of reproduction fees, and independent of fees that may be assessed by a copyright holder, it is the Center's policy to assess a fee for some uses of some copyrighted materials from its collections.
  • Researchers should include a citation to the Center as the source of the reproductions, using the credit line "Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin."

Public domain

  • The Harry Ransom Center asserts no copyright over digital reproductions of works in its collections that are in the public domain. The Center does not charge publication or use fees for public domain materials, and does not grant or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute them. To the extent that some jurisdictions grant an additional copyright in digital reproductions of such works, the Center relinquishes that copyright.
  • Researchers are permitted free and open use of their own photography of collection material that falls within the public domain, provided that they have signed and submitted the Center's Camera Use Policy form.
  • Researchers are responsible for determining the public domain status of Center materials prior to publication, including publication online and via social media platforms.
  • Researchers should include a citation to the Center as the source of the reproductions, using the credit line "Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin."

Privacy and confidentiality

Harry Ransom Center collection materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.

Format-specific terms of access

Some collection materials have special access requirements and restrictions:

Electronic files

  • Most electronic files have had some level of digital preservation applied. Some electronic files currently are not accessible to researchers.
  • Requests for electronic files may be made in the Reading and Viewing Room. The turnaround time for availability varies based on original file and media formats.
  • Restrictions on a given collection, copyright limitations, or technology complications may prevent the Center from providing access to unprocessed electronic files. Access to original disks and forensic disk images is restricted.
  • Access to electronic files is only available in the Reading and Viewing Room. Copying files, including screenshots and printouts, is not allowed; reproduction services are not available. Taking digital photographs of the computer screen for research purposes is allowed in accordance with the Center's Camera Use Policy.
  • Use of electronic files requires the Center's authorization, separate from any applicable copyright permissions. Notification of Intent to use forms are available.

Paintings and sculpture

  • Requests for Reading and Viewing Room access to paintings must be made in advance by emailing art@hrc.utexas.edu. Access is only available during regular weekday hours. An item's condition, size, and weight may preclude access. We are unable to accommodate group viewings.
  • Up to three paintings may be requested per appointment at least two working days in advance. Materials housed in offsite storage require advance notice of at least three working days.
  • Paintings will be staged either on an easel wall or flat on a table.
  • Staff will handle and position artwork for visitors to view labels, inscriptions, etc.
  • Requests to view sculptural works will be considered on a case-by-case basis because of handling needs.

Costumes, personal effects and objects

  • Requests for Reading and Viewing Room access to costumes must be made in advance by emailing reference@hrc.utexas.edu. Access is only available during regular weekday hours. An item's condition, size, and weight may preclude access. We cannot accommodate group viewings.
  • Up to five items may be requested per appointment at least three working days in advance. Requests for large or fragile items are limited to three per appointment.
  • Items will be displayed laid flat, on padded hangers, or in their boxes under staff supervision. Handling a costume (to view hidden details, for example) is permitted only by staff, and only at that person's discretion.

Audio, video, and moving pictures

  • Some original media can be streamed read-only in the Reading and Viewing Room.
  • Limited quantities of original media may be convertible at no charge to digital formats for Reading and Viewing Room usage. Staff will inform you of terms, conditions, and anticipated date of availability.
  • Reference copies may be ordered, upon confirmation by researcher of their obtaining necessary permission from any rights holders. Duplication fees will apply, with cost of media included.

Users will defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Harry Ransom Center and the University of Texas System, its Board of Regents, The University of Texas at Austin, its officers, employees, and agents against all claims, demands, costs, and expenses, including attorneys' fees incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Harry Ransom Center materials.

August 14, 2019