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Access Controls and Copyrights

Access to data may occasionally require limits due to sharing agreements or copyright concerns.

Acquiring Third-Party Data 

When data are acquired from outside sources, bear in mind that they become subject to the Information Quality Act; and, that by using such data, the USGS is endorsing that data.

Reference to and use of such third-party data requires extensive collaboration with external data providers in order to ensure high quality data. Because third-party data may have inherent weaknesses, the data cannot be accurately controlled and verified. For such instances, the source should be made transparent to the public but will not be subject to USGS Information Quality Guidelines.

If third-party data are copyrighted material owned by others that the USGS intends to use or reproduce in its information products, USGS is subject to the following policies. USGS must gain permission from the owner prior to use. These permissions should be broad enough to include all foreseeable potential uses for the copyrighted material. All USGS requests for permission of use should be made in writing and signed by the copyright holder. See U.S. Geological Survey Manual Chapter 1100.6 - Use of Copyrighted Material in USGS Information Products for more information.


Put Access Controls on Your Data if Necessary 

Data containing proprietary, confidential, private, and other sensitive information must be protected from unauthorized use. The USGS Privacy Act Program ensures that privacy considerations are taken into account in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 as amended in 5 U.S.C. 552a.


In the Metadata Record 

Always include information about access or copyright restrictions in your metadata [see Describe > Metadata for more information]. If you obtained copyrighted data from a third party, be sure to include a statement in the metadata.


Learn About Restrictions on Data you Want to Use 

Licensing issues may apply for data that you want to use. See U.S. Geological Survey Manual Chapters on copyrighted materials, the Privacy Act Program, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).


What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires: 

Survey Manual Chapter 1100.6 - Use of Copyrighted Material in USGS Information Products states:

Copyrighted material will not knowingly be incorporated into any information product prepared by or for the USGS, except with the written consent of the copyright owner. Use or permission granted by a copyright owner does not in any way adversely affect the owner’s rights.

When copyrighted materials are used in an information product, including on a Website or Web page, the following notice should appear:

"Although this information product, for the most part, is in the public domain, it also contains copyrighted materials as noted in the text. Permission to reproduce copyrighted items must be secured from the copyright owner."