Do you want to be the “good guys”? Reproduction, permissions, and copyright assertions

Cowgirl , Mrs. Benjamin F. Russell, George Eastman House [via Flickr]
Cowgirl, Mrs. Benjamin F. Russell, George Eastman House [via Flickr]
Following up on Jackie’s post on the RBMS 2014 Preconference, and Michelle Light’s #bestplenaryever* I asked Michelle to give me a list of the various reproduction, permissions, and copyright policies she found helpful or influential (with the caveat that this list is by no means exclusive and that there are other “good guy” policies out there). Michelle told me that her criteria for “good guy” policies are:

1) no requirement for the institution to grant permission to publish when the institution did not own the copyright or when the material was in the public domain
2) no use fees, or no use fees for public domain materials and materials copyrighted by others
3) some mention about fair use
4) clear statement that it is the users’ responsibility to research copyright and gather any necessary permissions

So with that brief introduction, here’s Michelle’s list of “the good guys:”

And of course I’d like to add Michelle’s recently revised policies:

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Special Collections:

My hope is that in putting this information in one place (quickly) and following Michelle’s amazing talk will inspire many of you to take a fresh look at your own policies, and help you put your institution on the side of the good guys. If you know of other policies that should be included in this list, please leave a comment below, and I will edit this post to include them!

*Update: Michelle has posted a copy of her talk, Controlling Goods or Promoting the Public Good: Choices for Special Collections in the Marketplace, online. See also the comments below for more additions to “good guys” policies.

7 Comments on “Do you want to be the “good guys”? Reproduction, permissions, and copyright assertions”

  1. We at the State Library of Queensland, in Australia, are good guys!

    We stopped charging reproduction fees or requiring permission for use of our material that is out of copyright or some years ago.
    We have also licensed all digital collections for which we own copyright using a CC-BY licence
    See one of our catalogue records: where we make the conditions of use upfront for clients, in positive language (what you can do, rather than what you can’t)
    We will also be making the archival quality image (.tif) for all out of copyright digital material in our collection freely available for download (by end of 2014)
    We offer in our Deed of Gift the options to transfer copyright to the library on donation, to licence for re-use by the library, and to licence the donation using Creative Commons licences.

    1. Margaret, what a wonderful example! Thank you for contributing and providing such a wonderful and positive experience for researchers! Thank you.

  2. Hi Merrilee,

    Great post! Here’s one more “good guys” policy you may wish to add. The DAC Open Access Images Policy went live in 2012 at the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University. It applies to images of DAC collection objects we believe to be in the public domain and unencumbered by any third-party rights. The policy meets all four of Michelle Light’s criteria. It’s online at the URL below, where there’s also a download link for a PDF version. At present, nearly 2,000 DAC Open Access Images are directly downloadable by users (that number will grow as collection digitization proceeds). For more, please see:

    all best,

    Rob Lancefield, Manager of Museum Information Services / Registrar of Collections
    Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, 301 High Street, Middletown CT 06459-0487 USA

    1. Thank you, Jared! Depending on responses, I’ll either edit the original or do a follow on. Fantastic and inspiring to see your work!

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