I would like to use a figure from a U.S. government publication in a research paper that I will submit for publication in a journal.

In particular, I would like to use Figure IV-1 from JP 4-03.

From this post it seems like you have to get permission when reprinting figures, but my reading of Section 3.1.2 on this government website dealing with copyright seems to say that there is no copyright on the publication.

If this is the case, will a caption like the following:

Fig. 1  Notional overland fuel distribution, reprinted from Joint Publication 4-03,
        Joint Bulk Petroleum and Water Doctrine (U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2016)

where I cite the publication and make it clear it is not my own image be sufficient?


Yes, this is sufficient.

By law, all US federal government publications are in the public domain, and can therefore be reused for any purpose, without permission, without violating anyone's copyright. Of course, you still need to credit the source of the image to avoid plagiarism, but that's exactly what you've proposed.

  • @revi "Only US federal gov's work is PD", please provide citation. Thank you. As far as I know, Fed and state governments are in PD. – scaaahu Jul 26 '17 at 9:07
  • @revi For example, The Library of Virginia web page says "Virginia State Documents is a list of publications currently in print and available to the public from agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia.". Please provide a counter-example. Thanks. – scaaahu Jul 26 '17 at 9:13
  • 2
    @scaaahu Added Wikipedia link. Only a few state governments put their publications into the public domain. (However, even in those states, publications by faculty in public universities—who are formally state employees—are not considered state-government publications, and they are subject to copyright protection.) – JeffE Jul 26 '17 at 17:05
  • 3
    Please note the 3rd paragraph of the link. If a report was generated by a contractor or grantee, there may still be copyright-protected work in the document. So no, not all US federal government publications are in the public domain. – mkennedy Jul 26 '17 at 18:53
  • 1
    I just emailed DTIC using their 'Contact Us' email and apparently there is no copyright on Joint Publications, so @JeffE your answer is correct. – derNincompoop Jul 26 '17 at 22:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.