Rights & Reproductions

The California Historical Society supports scholarship and research by providing reproductions of materials for private study and general use. CHS encourages you to use materials from our collections that are in the public domain, and to make fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by copyright law. Requests are fulfilled to the extent allowed by the format and physical condition of the material, as well as any applicable restrictions, including copyright regulations, privacy rights, donor-imposed regulations, or other rights related issues. We encourage you to visit The North Baker Research Library to view collections and select specific images for reproduction. Many of our images are also available for viewing on CHS’s Digital Library.

On September 30, 2023, the North Baker Research Library will close while staff focuses on long-overdue collections management maintenance.  The last day to submit reproductions and/or permissions requests will be the 15th of September.

To place a reproductions order, please review the information below and submit a Reproduction Request Form or Film Footage Request Form. To request permission to reproduce or publish any materials for which CHS holds copyright, please submit a Permissions Request Form.

Contact Information

Please contact us with any questions in about CHS’s Rights and Reproductions program.

Debra Kaufman

Reproduction Services and Fees

CHS does not provide images for resale. Some material may not be available for reproduction due to restrictions, size or condition.  All fees are based on current costs and are subject to change without notice.


  • Pre-payment is required on all orders.
  • Please allow 2 weeks once payment is received for regular orders; larger or special orders may take longer.
  • Postage and handling $7.00 minimum; California Sales Tax applies to in-state orders.
  • Additional charges may apply for special requests, higher resolution or complicated orders.
  • Fees subject to change without notice.

Scans: Scans are provided as 300 dpi TIFF files.

Reproduction Fee Schedule

Commercial Use Non-Commercial/Non-Profit Use
Reproduction fee per image (existing scan, 300 dpi) $65 $20
Reproduction fee per images (new scan, 300 dpi) $75 $25
Reproduction fee per image (custom scan over 300 dpi) Please Inquire Please Inquire
Permission fee for images to which CHS holds copyright $50 No Fee
Reproduction & licensing fees for film footage $60 per second, minimum of $200 $30 per second, minimum of $200

Copyright and Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17 United States Code) governs the making of reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If you use a reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” you may be liable for copyright infringement.

We encourage you to use materials in our collections that are in the public domain, and to make fair use of copyright materials as defined by copyright law.

Many of CHS’s special collection materials are still within copyright. While the CHS owns the physical objects in its collections, in the majority of cases CHS does not own the intellectual content. CHS cannot grant or deny permission to publish or distribute material whose copyright it does not hold, or materials deemed to be in the public domain. Please note that copyright law protects published as well as unpublished materials.

Materials, and images of them, may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by CHS. In obtaining a reproduction from CHS, responsibility for determining the rights status of materials, making an independent legal assessment of an item, and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with any person intending to use an item. The patron is responsible for obtaining all required permissions from copyright holders, and other rights holders, before publishing, distributing, or in any other way using a protected item beyond that allowed by fair use.

Requests to copy CHS’s materials, where CHS is the clear copyright holder, constitute an agreement that permission is granted for one-time, non-exclusive, worldwide use of an image in all languages, in any media, for the life of the title, as well as use in advertising and promotional materials. This does not imply permission for any derivative products or productions. Permissions for materials that CHS holds copyright over are not transferable. Resale of any image that CHS holds copyright over in any form is prohibited.

CHS will try to provide you with information regarding the holders of copyright for materials in their collections. Please note that often this information is not on file and CHS does not have the resources to conduct copyright research for patrons. In such cases, it is your responsibility to attempt to locate the copyright holder. CHS can not guarantee the accuracy of any rights holder information, and shall not be responsible for any inaccurate information.


The name of the California Historical Society must not be used in any manner that incorrectly implies any sponsorship or endorsement by CHS. When you use reproductions from CHS’s collections, please acknowledge CHS as the source of the material in the following manner:

[Identification of item, date]; [Collection name]; [Call number]; [box number, folder number]; California Historical Society.

Example: Letter to Ernest Besig, November 1945; American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California records, MS 3580; box 61, folder 1560; California Historical Society.


Courtesy, California Historical Society, [digital ID #]

Example: Courtesy, California Historical Society, MS 3580_008

Privacy and Publicity Rights

The publisher/user is solely responsible for addressing issues of privacy and publicity rights related to the use of CHS’s materials. Fair use is not a defense for violating privacy or publicity rights as the rights of privacy and publicity are distinct from copyright. Copyright laws protect the copyright owner’s property rights in the work, but privacy and publicity rights protect the interests of the individuals who are the subject of the work. While a person’s right to privacy usually end with his or her death, it should be noted that publicity rights associated with any commercial value of that person’s name or image or likeness, continues after their death. Unlike copyright, which is subject to the Copyright Act of 1976, privacy and publicity rights are subject to state laws.


In receiving a reproduction from CHS, the patron assumes all responsibility for infringement of copyright or other rights in the use of the material. CHS makes no warranties or representations and assumes no responsibility whatsoever for any claims against the applicant or CHS by artists, their agents, estates, or by any parties in connection with the reproduction of items in the collections of CHS.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why don’t you own the rights to the images in your collection?

CHS’s mission is to inspire and empower people to make California’s richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives. Part of realizing that mission is to make our collections accessible to the public though our research library and our digital library. In many cases copyright and other rights were not transferred to CHS at the same time as the physical item was donated. Even though we do not own the rights to many of the materials, we feel it is important to share these historical documents with the people of California and the world in a way that supports and encourages private study, scholarship, and research.

I have a deadline, can I pay for a rush order?
We do not have the resources to provide rush service. Please allow two to four weeks once payment is received for regular orders; larger or special orders may take longer.

The item I want scanned is larger than 12.5 x 17.5 inches. Can I scan it myself or pay to have it sent to an outside vendor?

All patron reproduction requests are fulfilled by our reproductions department. Items larger than 12.5 x 17.5 inches are unable to be scanned in-house. CHS is unable to accommodate individual requests to have materials from our collection sent to an outside vendor for scanning.

I am a textbook publisher. Do I need to get permission to use an image from CHS’s collections?

CHS cannot give permission to use materials over which we do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the publishing party to determine the copyright status of an item.

I want to use one of your images in my book and my publisher requests that CHS sign a release form. Will you sign it?

It is not the policy of CHS to sign forms that ask us to license materials in our collections, or that seek rights clearance from CHS. In cases where CHS owns copyright over the material, the user can sign and submit CHS’s Reproduction Order form and a copy will be made available to them.