These are some of the issues you should think about and some of the specific information to provide on these forms.
When you agree to give your material to the Archives, you are giving the Archives the property rights for all the materials and objects (property rights are different from copyrights; see below). The Archives does not accept material on loan or for temporary storage. When you sign the donor form you are agreeing that the material you send to us becomes the permanent property of the Archives. However, you can specify how and under what conditions the material can be used.
Your collection may contain magazines, books, and flyers that already exist in the Archives. While we will note that they were part of your personal collection so that individuals doing research will be aware of them as part of your life, we must restrict the amount of duplicate material we house in the building. Therefore we may decide to eliminate the actual physical material from your collection. Please indicate if duplicate material should be returned to you or if LHEF may decide what to do with it.
Copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, publicly perform, or display unpublished or published works. This includes the right to publish significant portions of published or unpublished works. Copyright belongs to the creator or creators of a work (no matter who possesses physical ownership of the work) unless another agreement about copyright has been made, or the work is a “work-for-hire” (something prepared by an employee within the scope of employment, or something expressly stated as a work-for-hire in a signed document). Upon your death, copyright of an unpublished work created on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically transferred for a period of fifty years to the managers of your estate (often the traditional “next of kin”) unless you have specified otherwise. Fifty years after your death, unless another arrangement is made, copyright passes from your heirs into the public domain. Unpublished works created before January 1, 1978, are covered for the same length of time. Copyright protection for published works is more complicated; check with the publishing company, a lawyer, or an archivist for more information.
We encourage you to make explicitly clear who is to possess copyright of your unpublished material here at the Archives both before and after your death in order to prevent possible disputes. On the donor form, please indicate if you want to
- assign copyright at this time to LHEF;
- retain copyright during your lifetime, assigning copyright of your material to the Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation upon your death; or
- make another arrangement, perhaps assigning copyright to another trusted individual upon your death. If you wish to specify another arrangement, please indicate this on the donor agreement form. In order to prevent misunderstandings, be sure to create a will and reinforce the terms of this agreement there. Wills are often not enough to prevent destruction of the herstory of a stigmatized people. Even when everything is in proper legal order, heirs have been known to destroy or censor letters, photographs, and diaries. It is safest to secure the records of your life, before your death, in the place you want them to be.
When you retain the copyright to your archival collection, researchers and publishers bear the responsibility to locate you to obtain your written permission to significantly reproduce your work in any public format—a book, video, recording, photograph, or whatever else. This places an additional step between the researcher and the permitted publication or public display of your material, and it means that researchers will ask us for information necessary to contact you. If you wish to retain copyright to your words or work, please keep us informed of your current address so that we can refer interested researchers to you. If we lose track of you, researchers who need copyright permissions will be prevented from making full use of your collection.
If you assign the copyright to your material to the Archives, publishers, video makers, and others must receive written permission from this organization to publish material from your collection in any significant fashion. It also means that we could publish or reproduce your words or you work without obtaining permission from you each time. Please contact us if you would like to explore further options. “Fair use” regulations allow researchers some rights to cite or represent parts of copyrighted material no matter who owns the copyright.
You do not necessarily possess copyright to everything in your archival collection. If a collection contains work or writing done by people other than the donor (letters from relatives or an ex-lover or papers from an organization of which you were a part), copyright of the material remains with the original creator of the work (or her heirs until fifty years after death) unless that creator makes another arrangement. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission from any creator of a work to publish or reproduce it in any significant way. If you would like, you may provide us with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of others whose creations appear in your collection.
Access and Privacy
We hope you find it possible to allow unrestricted access to your archival collection. However, should you find it necessary to place restrictions on access, we will unquestioningly honor your wishes to the best of our abilities. In the case where you do not posses copyright to material donated, we reserve the right to restrict access pending permission from the creator or her estate. If you have significant concerns about your privacy or the privacy of others mentioned or pictured in your collection, we ask that you phrase restrictions as specifically and as narrowly as possible. You may wish to provide us with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of others mentioned or pictured in your collection so that researchers may clarify any privacy concerns that could arise with publication of parts of your collection. Please contact the Archives to discuss these or other terms of access to your collection.
We also ask you to specifically indicate your willingness to list your name and a general description of your Special Collection on our website. Any restrictions you place on your collection will remain in effect.
Access to and Duplication of Visual/Audio Oral History/Interviews, Videos and Photographs
If you are donating interviews or oral histories by someone other than yourself, you should have the interviewee/respondent sign a release in terms of access to the material. Then you should indicate on the donor form what that access is and either have the interviewee/respondent sign the form or include the release form with your donation. The issues of duplication and use of such material beyond initial listening or viewing, such as duplication or public display, is especially important to specify. If you are donating artwork or photography by someone other than yourself, it would be helpful to include the name and address of the artist/photographer. If these are photographs you have taken or home videos you have made that are not copyrighted and include people other than yourself, you should indicate the conditions under which researchers can duplicate the material and whether you have the consent of the others involved.
Appraisals and Tax Deductions
Most gifts of personal papers are not tax-deductible. You may wish to have an appraisal conducted for tax-deduction purposes if you suspect your donation may have particular monetary value. We cannot do appraisals, but we may be able to suggest professionals who could perform one.