Photography is the fastest growing media industry in the world and we now upload and share over 1.8 billion photos each day online globally. For museums, images and photographs are precious assets worth protecting: these could be old photos from your archive that you have recently digitised or more modern images of your building or collections.
Alternatively, you might need to purchase images for use on interpretation panels or your website, so it pays to have some sound copyright rules in place so that there is clarity surrounding how you handle this topic.
“Not everyone wants to give their work away for free and nor should they,” explains Andrea Stern, Director of the Ministry of Copyright, Cultural and Creators’ Assets (MOCA). “It pays to know what you are getting when both licensing and purchasing images and footage. Having the right licences in place saves everyone time, money and your reputation.”
Top Tips on Licensing Photography for Cultural Heritage from the Ministry of Copyright, Cultural and Creators’ Assets (MOCA)
1: Copyright is an automatic right and can only be given away by the copyright owner in writing; once this right has been reassigned to a third party it is no longer yours. For that reason a ‘buy-out’ will cost the client much more.
2: Explicit not implied – both parties need to work to a clear set of terms and conditions. For example, is this a non-exclusive agreement or will others be using the work? Can I use this work commercially to sell a product or just for editorial use? Don’t be afraid to ask!
3: Clarity – make sure both parties understand how the image will be used; for how long the client requires rights; is the image used online or in print or both, will the image be cropped or manipulated? All this should be documented writing!
4: Credit – Always ask for a credit. It may not always be possible to get it but always ask. It is also best practice to credit the photographer’s name against the work as well as the institution – it saves time later.
5: Other rights and Permissions – in addition to the rights of the creator (copyright) there may also be rights in the subjects that appear in an image. This could affect how work is used commercially. For example take care when using photographs of children, famous people, certain buildings, trade marks and design.
The Ministry of Copyright, Cultural and Creators’ Assets (MOCA) is running a workshop on Wednesday November 25 in London called ‘Can you afford to invest? Can you afford not to?’ Tickets cost £25 and more information can be found here: