I want to write some articles about aeronautical knowledge on my blog.

However, I heard that FAA's all publications including handbooks (e.g IFH, AFH, PHAK, etc.) are copyright-free.

But I can't find any reference for it.

Are there any legal issues if I use these ones for commercial use?

Plus, all photos and pictures included in handbooks are also okay for this purpose?


2 Answers 2


The publications you listed are in the public domain in the U.S. because, as works of the Federal Government, they are not eligible for copyright protection. You may use them commercially, subject to the same restrictions (such as civil liability) as use of any other kind of material.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Makes sense, since we’ve paid for them… $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty sure the same is true for most gov't agencies, e.g. NASA, NOAA, CDC, etc. Maybe not the ones that deal in classified national defense stuff, but most of the others. $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman It's true for almost all works produced by the Federal Government. Note that lack of copyright does not equate to must be published or disclosed. Classified material is a different thing. It's just that works of the Government are by law not eligible for copyright, with a few niche exceptions. $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Mar 3 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps worth mentioning is that those works are only in the public domain in the US. As per the linked article: "This act only applies to U.S. domestic copyright as that is the extent of U.S. federal law. The U.S. government asserts that it can still hold the copyright to those works in other countries." - if OP is not from US, this status is not as clear. $\endgroup$
    – jaskij
    Mar 3 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ @jaskij I can't find any evidence (and have never heard) that the FAA asserts any foreign copyright claims on its publications. The government only reserves the right to do this. If there's evidence to the contrary, I'm all ears! $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Mar 3 at 21:44

The FAA has a FAQ that mentions this:

All digital products published by the FAA are in the public domain and are not copyright protected. Therefore, a written release or credit is not required to incorporate them into your own digital products.

So copyright is no problem.

Another possible issue is liability. You may be opening yourself up to liability if you publish out-of-date or incorrect aeronautical information. For example, if you publish a chart on your blog, you should take care to clearly mark it "Not for navigation" unless you want to keep it up-to-date and accurate.

It should be obvious, but you also shouldn't claim that you made the materials or that the FAA in any way endorses your blog.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you're right, but that particular FAQ is about digital flight data (charts, nav info etc.). I tried to find something specifically covering the Handbooks, but nothing immediately turned up. $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Mar 3 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ @TypeIA From a practical standpoint, you may also be reassured by the printers who print out the PHAK/AFH/etc. and sell it for money without the FAA getting mad at them. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Mar 3 at 8:35
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    $\begingroup$ I don't need reassurance, for me the fact isn't in question but the cited FAQ isn't applicable to the question (for other readers). $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Mar 3 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @TypeIA As far as I can tell, this is the clearest statement that the FAA intends that their digital products are intended to be public domain. The FAQ is for their charts, but it does say all digital products produced by the FAA. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Mar 3 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ You shouldn't claim that you made it, but it's probably not illegal. In the same way that I can claim that I wrote Pride and Prejudice. $\endgroup$
    – fectin
    Mar 4 at 20:06

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