Museums and Galleries: Copyright:Written question - HL2906

Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 06 November 2017
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Museums and Galleries: Copyright
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether National Museums will consider providing open access to images of publicly owned, out of copyright paintings, prints, and drawings so that they are free for the public to reproduce; and whether they have held discussions with non-UK museums about such access.
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
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.

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