Before you can use copyrighted material on an Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) website or for other digital media, you need to obtain permission from the owner. Copyrighted materials include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Content written by a non-governmental organization
  • Publications, presentations, documents, and other downloadable files, such as PDFs
  • Images, illustrations, photos, and videos.

Content produced by government agencies is typically in the public domain and is not copyrighted, which means it can be used without asking for permission. However, EERE asks that anyone using EERE's content attribute it to the U.S. Department of Energy, and we should give this same consideration to other federal agencies. When you borrow content from other agencies, mention its original source.

Obtain and Display Permission

Follow these steps when using copyrighted content:

  1. Get written authorization from the copyright owner to post the information.
  2. Display a standard copyright notice along with the copyrighted content. There is no standard format for this. "Photo courtesy of…" or "Information provided by…" disclaimers are appropriate.
  3. Recognize that copyright owners are solely responsible for policing how copyrighted material is used. If they ask for copyrighted content to be taken down, follow their request.

Displaying Copyright Disclaimers for Images

Copyright disclaimers should be included in the image caption, when possible. If not, the copyright disclaimer should be included as close to the copyrighted content as possible in the body section of the web page.

Note that stock photograph companies often include mandatory copyright disclaimers that you must use when you use their images. Look at your stock photograph company's terms of use and follow their instructions.

Don't Post "Official Use Only" and Proprietary Content

Some presentations, reports, and documents may be labeled "For Official Use Only" or "Proprietary."  These files cannot be posted on the EERE website.

Using EERE's Content on External Websites

If an organization outside of EERE wants to use EERE's content on its site, the organizational contact should be directed to the "Copyright, Restrictions and Permissions Notice" on the DOE Web Policies page.

Typically, most content produced by EERE is in the public domain and can be freely distributed and copied. However, this content should still be attributed to the U.S. Department of Energy. Stock photographs and other materials that were produced by other organizations are not in the public domain and cannot be used by external organizations.