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Museums and Galleries: Copyright

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL2907, tabled on 6 November 2017

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they sanction each National Museum's interpretation of image copyright law; and if not, what measures are in place to review whether National Museums are interpreting image copyright law correctly.

Answered on

16 November 2017

Decisions about image licensing and fees, and related copyright, are operational matters for the national museums as arm’s length bodies of government. As such, we do not hold data on the amount of income raised by image fees, on licences offered or the impact of fees on academic use.

Details of the process for requesting permission to reproduce images can be found on the respective websites of the national museums. The policies of both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery for example, allow some print reproduction of images for scholarly purposes free of charge, and several national museums offer or may offer a discount where image reproduction is for an academic purpose. Others, such as the British Museum and Science Museum, allow images to be used by the public under a Creative Commons licence. Additionally, many national museums have demonstrated significant efforts towards digitising their collections and in doing so are making our national collections accessible to the nation in new ways.

National museums are bound to provide free, in person, access to the permanent collections as a condition of government Grant-in-aid (GIA) funding and this policy has been a great success. Provided this condition is met, national museums are permitted and encouraged to pursue commercial activities, which may include image licensing. Such activities are an important supplement to museums in supporting their objectives to facilitate participation for people of all ages and backgrounds.