Reproduction of Archival Materials:
Policy Considerations

Richard Pearce-Moses
Documentary Collections Archivist, the Heard Museum

In 1994 several Arizona archivists and curators received inquiries from publishers who wanted to use historical photographs and other materials in digital products. Together they considered the problems of granting permission to reproduce their holdings in this new medium.

On the whole, the group felt that the fundamental principles regarding reproduction in print and moving image media applied with little or no modification. Although many feared the possibility of piracy, the group observed that a higher quality image could be pirated from a reproduction in a book (assuming a 150-200 line screen) than from a scanned image (72 dpi).

However, the group also recognized that their existing policies and procedures were inadequate. They reviewed policies from other repositories around the United States and pulled together the best from each. That draft was the reviewed by legal counsel, and their recommended changes were incorporated.

One innovation among the repositories was language regarding cultural property, which was considered an extension of privacy rights from an individual to a cultural group.

The form is intended to be sufficiently generic to be used for several purposes by any repositories. When used by patrons requesting copy photographs for personal use or corporations requesting photos for use in a commercial project, it informs them of the limits of use (and binds them to it).

Nevertheless, any repository should review the policies implied in the form and make modifications as appropriate. In particular:

Beyond fees to recover the cost of copy photography, most repositories charge a fee for the commercial use of images. Use fees are generally waived or discounted for non-profit organizations. Use fees were also typically waived for scholarly use in articles of original research in university or academic press publications; note, however, that textbooks and educational materials for classroom use are not considered scholarly use.

A survey of fees charged by repositories around the United States found no consistency due to the wide variance in how those fees were structured. Some repositories varied use fees based on the medium in which the reproduction would appear (textbooks, trade publications, serials; film or television; billboards); the size of the reproduction; the size of edition or market; whether the reproduction was color or black-and-white; whether the reproduction was on the cover. Finally, the nature of the holdings varied; art museums with unique materials could charge more than historical societies with holdings that overlapped "competing" repositories.

The group was concerned about developing a fee structure that was equitable. The group felt it was inappropriate to charge Time magazine and the local chess club the same fee for using an image on the cover of their publication. But discounts based on whether the requester was a small mom-and-pop or a corporate mogul were discriminatory as the fee was based on the user, not the use. Basing the fee on size of edition or target audience was equitable, but size required different fees for each medium; billboards are measured in exposures, film use is typically based in seconds.

Developing a schedule based on the geographical distribution of the product provided a simple, equitable means to scale the fee to the product. Use fees were based on whether the publication was local, regional, national, or international in scope. For one repository the fees are $40, $75, $125, and $150, respectively.

Use fees can be adjusted down if the actual market is significantly smaller than other products with the same geographical distribution. For example, the International Journal of East Anglican Anglers might be charged the regional fee based on its base of 500 subscribers, even though it's sold in seventeen countries.

Those fees are based on one-time, one-edition rights. Multiple use rights are generally granted only for those products that are known to require them and must be negotiated in advance, such as television programs that will go into reruns. Multiple use fees are three times the one-time use fee.

Cover or signature use is charged twice the normal fee.

Indian Head Nickel The Model License

Indian Head Penny Return to Home

Send the URL for this website to a friend!