Congress.gov is hosted and managed by the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress’s mission is to support Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties, and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people. Our websites offer public access to a wide range of information, including historical materials that may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes. Such materials should be viewed in the context of the relevant time period. We do not endorse the views expressed in such materials.
Our websites link to other federal agencies’ and other organizations’ websites when there is a business reason to do so. The links are not endorsements by the Library of Congress of the content of the websites, or of their policies or products.
To maintain the security of the Library of Congress websites, and to ensure that they remain available to all users, we use software programs to monitor network traffic. The programs identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, deny service, or otherwise cause damage or access non-public information. Unauthorized attempts to upload or change information are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the United States criminal code (18 U.S.C. 1030). We may provide information about possible violations of the law to law enforcement officials.
We reserve the right to block IP address that fail to honor our websites’ robot.txt files, or submit requests at a rate that negatively impacts service delivery to patrons. Current guidelines recommend that software programs submit a total of no more than 10 requests per minute to Library applications, regardless of the number of machines used to submit requests. We also reserve the right to terminate programs that require more than 24 hours to complete.
About Copyright and the Collections
Whenever possible, the Library of Congress provides factual information about copyright owners and related matters in the catalog records, finding aids and other texts that accompany collections. As a publicly supported institution, we generally do not own the rights to materials in our collections. We do not charge permission fees for using materials, and generally do not grant or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute them.
However, permissions and fees may be required from the individual copyright holder. You should determine for yourself whether or not an item is protected by copyright or in the public domain, and then satisfy any copyright or use restrictions when publishing or distributing materials from our collections. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond what is allowed by fair use or other exemptions requires written permission from the copyright holder.
If you have more information about an item that you have seen on our websites, or if you are the copyright holder and believe our websites have not properly attributed your work or have used it without permission, please contact email@example.com with your contact information and a link to the relevant content.
Privacy and Publicity Rights
If you use materials from Library of Congress websites, then you are responsible for making your own decision whether there are privacy and publicity rights considerations. Factors to consider include the type of materials and their intended use.
Privacy and publicity rights are separate and distinct from copyright. Privacy and publicity rights protect the interests of the person(s) who may by the subject(s) of the work, whereas copyright protects the copyright holder’s property interest in the work. Privacy and publicity issues can arise when using materials such as letters, diary entries, and photographs because two or more people were involved in creating the work (e.g. photographer and subject, or interviewer and interviewee).
The distinctions between privacy rights, publicity rights, and copyright can be clearly illustrated by an example: an advertiser would like to use a photograph for a print ad. The advertiser asks the photographer (who holds the copyright of the photograph) for permission, and negotiates a license to use the image. But the advertiser must also find out if the photographer had a formal relationship with the subject of the photo allowing the photographer to license the photo for all uses, or otherwise waiving the subject’s rights (such as a release form signed by the subject). If there was no formal relationship, then the advertiser also needs permission from the subject because the subject has retained both privacy and publicity rights in the use of his/her likeness. The publicity right of a subject is that his/her image cannot be used commercially without his/her consent.
Privacy rights generally end when the person in question dies. However, publicity rights from a person’s name, image or voice can continue after his or her death. For example, the estates of celebrities and public figures may continue to control and license the use of those figures’ names, likenesses, etc. While the risk of using an image in a periodical’s “editorial” pages may be lower than using one in advertising or for other commercial purposes, the risk can still be high if the person is ridiculed or presented in a libelous manner. Celebrities and other figures who seek public recognition surrender some privacy, but may still have the right to control commercial use of their image (such as likeness, voice, and signature) because image can be a commercial asset.
Copyright is protected by federal law under the United States Copyright Act, whereas privacy and publicity rights are governed by state law. What is allowed in one state may not be allowed in another. (But note that related federal causes of action, such as unauthorized use of a person’s identity to create a false endorsement, may be pursued under the Lanham Act, 15 USC 1125(a).) Fair use is a statutorily described defense to copyright infringement, but is not a defense to violations of privacy or publicity rights.
Protecting our patrons’ personal information is important. We collect, use, and share information obtained from online visitors only in the following ways:
- Personal information is voluntarily provided by users.
- Personal information is used only for its intended purpose.
- Personal information is disclosed to other government agencies only if required by law.
- Personal information is not disclosed to outside parties without first obtaining permission from the user.
- We provide a safe online environment for children in accordance with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) principles.
- We have safeguards to protect all information collected.
For more information follow these links:
- Types of Information Collected
- Automatically Collected Information
- Information Collected for Measurement and Customization (Cookies)
- Personal Information
Types of Information Collected
The Library of Congress collects several types of information, although never for commercial marketing use:
- Automatically Collected Information
- Information Collected for Measurement and Customization (Cookies)
- Personal Information
We have safeguards in place to protect all this information, including only allowing access by designated staff who require access in order to perform their duties.
Automatically Collected Information
The Library of Congress strives to provide the best experience for its web users. We automatically collect and store the following non-personally identifiable information:
- The name of the domain from which you accessed the Internet,
- The Internet Protocol address of your Internet providers’ gateways, or in some cases, your computer,
- The date and time you accessed the Library’s sites,
- The URL of the pages visited and files downloaded,
- The Internet address of the website that brought you directly to our websites,
- Characteristics of your computer system; and
- Search terms used to come to the websites and while on the websites (in aggregate only).
This information allows us to improve website design, presentation and system performance. We collect this information from anyone who reads, browses and/or downloads information from our websites.
Information Collected for Measurement and Customization (Cookies)
To help provide website visitors with the best experience possible, the Library of Congress uses commercial software to report and analyze aggregated web metrics data. The data is generally retained indefinitely to help improve website performance.
Our sites use three types of tools: session cookies, persistent cookies, and other customization tools. “Cookies” are small files that websites transfer to visitors’ computers to allow the site to remember specific information. If you do not want cookies transferred to your computer, you may opt out by changing your browser options. Without cookies, most of our websites will continue to display normally, but certain features may not work as well or may be unavailable.
Session cookies do not contain personal information and disappear once the browser window is closed. We use session cookies for technical purposes such as to enable you to more easily navigate throughout the websites. Session cookies only collect non-personally identifiable data.
Persistent cookies store information on users’ computers for longer periods of time and across multiple visits. We do not use persistent cookies to collect personal identifiable information about visitors. However, we do use persistent cookies to improve web metrics by distinguishing between new and returning visitors, to anonymously aggregate data on how visitors use our websites, and to remember voluntarily-provided user preferences to create a smoother browsing experience.
Customization tools allow users to voluntarily provide information to personalize and improve their online experience. Information from customization tools is saved on our servers.
Personal information may be required to use certain features of Library of Congress websites, such as making a purchase from the Library’s online shop, submitting a request to the Ask a Librarian service, responding to a feedback form, or participating in blog discussions. We always inform users what information is required, and only use that information for its stated purpose. If you provide the information requested, then you consent to our using the information for the stated purpose. If you do not provide the information then some website features may be unavailable.
Part of the Library of Congress’s mission is reaching out to children in creative and educationally beneficial ways while still protecting their privacy. Our websites offering educational content to children under the age of 13 have links to their own privacy policies that comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Some websites may include games or activities that require personally identifiable information. We do not use the information for any purpose other than the game or activity, and delete the information as soon as practical.
If we become aware that a child under the age of 13 has made a request for information (such as through the Ask a Librarian service), we will respond to the request and then delete any identifying information. Similarly, if we learn that a child under 13 has posted personally identifiable information on any of our websites, we will delete the information.
We will disclose information about a child under the age of 13 if it is necessary to protect the child, the website itself, or to respond to a law enforcement inquiry.
We take children’s privacy seriously, and encourage parents to contact us with any questions or concerns via the form at www.loc.gov/contact/web-site-comments. Similarly, parents who would like to notify us of personally identifiable information collected from a child under the age of 13 that should be deleted should contact us at the above address.
Linking to the Library’s Websites
The Library of Congress generally does not own rights to items in the collections, or what is posted on the websites. We do not charge permission fees for using materials, and generally do not grant or deny permission to publish or distribute materials. However, we request that anyone linking to Library of Congress websites present the link in a manner that does not imply that the Library is making an express or implied endorsement of any good or service provided, and that the link clearly indicates that the user is leaving one site and going to another.
About Our Web Surveys
The Library of Congress uses various types of online forms, including third-party forms and surveys, to collect opinions and feedback. Submitting information is voluntary.
We appreciate all comments and feedback from our visitors.
September 14, 2015