Laws governing copyrights were issued to protect those who have created literary, artistic and musical works. It is extremely important to be aware of these laws and how they are applied. When in doubt, obtain permission!
Works enter public domain when their copyrights expire. Virtually all works developed before the 20th century were not copyrighted and belong to the public.
Girl Scouts of the USA has published a complete booklet on this subject. Contact your local council office to review a copy. The information provided below is intended as a brief summary for various forms of media. It is by no means a complete source of copyright law and cannot be relied upon as such.
Girl Scout publications: Most are copyrighted and you must obtain permission. This includes songbooks where multiple copyrights may be involved. For permission, write to Print Production, Girl Scouts of the USA, 420 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10018-2798.
Sheet music: If a Girl Scout troop were asked to perform songs at an event, troop members may NOT use duplicated copies. They must use purchased copies.
Audiovisuals: Girl Scout audiovisuals are copyrighted. Some items indicate that they can be duplicated for internal use only. Otherwise, obtain permission by writing to Internal Communications, Girl Scouts of the USA, 420 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10018-2798.
Photographs: Photographs, drawings and illustrations may not be used without permission.
Electronic materials: New technology is impacting copyright law, with federal legislation being drafted. Watch for timely information on this topic, and never assume you can use electronic material without permission.
There is a concept called ‘fair use’ which may apply. This doctrine allows the use of materials if such use would not economically harm the copyright holder. Fair use is determined based on the purpose (such as nonprofit educational use), the nature of the work, the amount used and the potential impact on the market value of the work. Exercise caution! It is always best to obtain permission!