From time to time, the Washington University Library receives requests to re-publish articles or other materials that were published by the Washington University Press. The Press terminated operations in 1970, and it does not appear that the University owns a complete set of all materials published. Therefore, it is often difficult to assess what person or entity owns the copyright to these materials. Recognizing the difficulties in reaching publication decisions about WashU Press materials, representatives from University Archives, Office of General Counsel, and Public Affairs met to discuss how these inquiries might be handled efficiently and expeditiously. This page is intended to outline a protocol for when these inquiries arise, and to provide a framework around which re-publication decisions may be reached.
When a request comes in from a library patron seeking to reuse material or information from a Press publication, the University Archivist will check the actual Press publications on hand to see if we have the specific publication. If the publication does exist in the University’s collection, the Archivist will look to determine if it provides copyright information (i.e., if the author or the University expressly retained copyright rights to the material).
If the publication cannot be located, then the University Archivist will check in the Washington University Press Administrative Files to see if the folder “Permission to Reproduce” contains the exact form or other documentation relating to the specific publication. Such documentation may contain direction as to copyright ownership.
If the University Archivist cannot locate a specific form relating to re-publication rights, then he or she will look for forms around the publish date of the publication at issue.
The University Archivist will provide this information to Public Affairs Trademark contact and the Office of General Counsel and, together, the three offices will consult to determine the best way to proceed, based on the information available.
The Public Affairs Trademark contact and the Office of General Counsel should consider all relevant factors in their analysis, including: how well-known the author was; who seeks to reproduce the material from the Press publication; the scope of the requested publication; and, the difficulties of contacting the author and/or his or her estate or heirs. The Office of General Counsel will also make a legal risk assessment in light of these facts as well as the age of publication and applicable copyright law.
Based on that analysis, the three offices will make a recommendation regarding whether the University should contact the author or his heirs about the applicable copyright. If so, they will also evaluate how to make that contact.
The Public Affairs Trademark contact, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel, will write a response to the patron and send it directly to the patron.
Public Affairs will sign any paperwork required by the patron.