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?

1 Answer 1


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.
    – Nobody
    Jul 26, 2017 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.
    – Nobody
    Jul 26, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 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. Jul 26, 2017 at 22:19

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