Crown Copyright Protection, Images from the IWM

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by dave500, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. dave500

    dave500 Senior Member

    As an American, I have never quite understood
    the restrictions that the IWM imposes on its imagery
    from WW II. Specifically, the requirement to obtain
    a license before placing an IWM photo on the web.

    Imperial War Museum Collections Online Database

    At the NARA II, College Park, MD, WW II-era photographs
    taken by U.S. Army and Navy photographers in the employ
    of the USG are considered to be in the public domain.

    I can put them on a website and the NARA asks only that
    I credit it as the source.

    What is the rationale behind HMG's restriction of use
    of these 70 year-old photos?

  2. wowtank

    wowtank Very Senior Member

    Why not wright to the IWM and ask them what the SP is.
  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    The original official rationale behind Crown Copyright was that it protects public intellectual property from commercial exploitation. Whereas the U.S. Government takes the exact opposite approach in that as Government copyright is public property, the public should be able do whatever they like with it.

    However, the licensing of IWM photos and moving images is no longer an issue of Crown Copyright as, I believe, it has expired on WWII imagery but as a revenue stream for the IWM to support its operations.

    That's something I’m personally conflicted about. On the one hand it does restrict the telling of British history but on the other it does help to maintain the amazing resource that the IWM is. At the end of the day, the archives need to be maintained and made accessible to the public, that costs money and perhaps it is only fair that those who wish to commercially exploit those archives are the ones paying the bill?

    SteveDee and Slipdigit like this.
  4. dave500

    dave500 Senior Member


    In an era of shrinking budgets, I can appreciate the necessity of charging
    commercial users. Nonetheless, I believe our approach is ultimately more beneficial.

  5. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Dave, the U.S. approach certainly makes it much easier to tell/show history and indeed modern events.

    The new UK Open Government Licence initiative appears to be making things easier over here now. Although I can't say I'm fully up on the details and implications of it yet but it looks like it is a big improvement:
    Open Government Licence

    However, I don't think this extends to IWM collections.
  6. Tab

    Tab Senior Member

    So they keep and look after the photos and you wish to use them to benifit your self, so whats wrong with them asking for some thing in return that enables them to keep all this stuff in good order, for future generations.
    SteveDee likes this.
  7. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    The IWM assumes that it holds copyright on all photographs of which it has copies in its archives and this is probably not the case. Their collection includes photographs from captured German sources for example and these were probably not the only image made from the original negative.

    Many British photographs were supplied to agencies at the time and now British Pathé and in my field of interest, the successors to the 1940s motorcycle magazines act as if they too 'own' the copyright on any examples where they happen still to have original prints.

    Owners of 1940s copies of German images (often sold in quantity as souvenirs) all seem to assume that having a period print entitles them to a slice of copyright protection. Sometimes negatives turn up. If this is the only surviving example, does this make the owner the copyright holder or does it lie with the successors to a long-forgotten photographer ?

    As things stand, the IWM doesn't seem to be putting resources into pursuing copyright on images posted on forums such as this. I'd hope that they realise that it brings about an increase in interest and that there are at least some of us prepared to pay for decent hard copies.

    What I do find a shame is that copyright charges from national collections often make it nigh-on impossible to illustrate a specialist interest publication fully. We can for instance discuss BEF markings on this forum but a book including numerous photographs of the markings in use could probably never be published.
  8. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Rich, what the IWM and TNA are doing is licensing the reproduction of images in their collections. This is entirely separate to granting copyright permission.

    I very occasionally do it with propaganda leaflets in my own collection where the copyright has expired. Some are very rare with only a few examples surviving. If a TV broadcaster wants to use a copy of one of these leaflets in their programme, then I supply them with a copy of it under an agreement that it is only to be used in that programme and with some sort of reward for myself.

    Anyone else who owns a copy of that propaganda leaflet is perfectly entitled to do a similar deal.

    This is different to granting permission to use a copyrighted image.

    A huge number of photographs in the IWM collection are now in the public domain but as those photographs are unique to their collection, it is not difficult for them to control how they continue to be used, even if they did not hold the original copyright.

  9. dave500

    dave500 Senior Member

    So they keep and look after the photos and you wish to use them to benifit your self, so whats wrong with them asking for some thing in return that enables them to keep all this stuff in good order, for future generations.

    I am not selling anything. The policy of the IWM means I cannot
    place this terrific photo from Anzio on the web.

    NA_012082 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

  10. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique MOD

    Is that a British image you have got from NARA?
  11. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    There are two sorts of fees imposed by the IWM: One you have to pay to get the copy of the foto and one you have to pay to get the right to use it in your publication. The first one is defied on their website / order form, the second one is a subject of negotiation, depending on the sort of publication you intend to do.
  12. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    Worthy of a caption competition, that one!

    "Let me tell you what I was up to in 1939, 1940, 1941...."

    The policy of the IWM means I cannot
    place this terrific photo from Anzio on the web.
    NA_012082 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
  13. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Good info there Kuno - could you explain that a little further?

  14. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    I am not selling anything. The policy of the IWM means I cannot
    place this terrific photo from Anzio on the web.

    NA_012082 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


    A great photo there Dave.

    If the answer is "yes" to Paul's question about it coming from NARA, then why can't you put it on the web? It has nothing to do with the IWM, surely it is just a question of whether the Crown Copyright has lapsed or not (presuming it is a photograph taken by a British Army photographer).

  15. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Have the IWM actually gone after anyhow for using one of their photos?
  16. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Not as far as I'm aware. But their reproduction fees are the highest on the market. Prices start at £75 and go up from there.

    Oddly enough they've quite literally priced themselves out of the market. Checking their books this has led to a pretty unpleasant collapse in revenue.

    A real shame when the international trend is in the opposite direction.

    A sign of exceptionally poor management choices.
  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD
    Read full text in the link above, of which:


    Catalogue number: H 2136
    © IWM (H 2136)

    SteveDee likes this.
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    I think the Australian War Memorial has a slightly odd policy in that its low-res digital photos are classified as copyright free, but not other formats of the same images. It's a confusing area as copyright waived, copyright free, out of copyright and public domain almost certainly have different interpretations.

    OS maps are another odd one - last time I looked, even though they admit that a 50+ year old map is out of [crown] copyright, they still expect you to put some OS-mandated staement on a reproduction.
  19. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Don't get me started on the IWM and their over-protective nature with sharing material. :)
    Generally speaking, I think the Americans and Australians have it about right, with the correct ethos.
  20. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Below is a partial list from the link posted from dbf on commercial use. It basically says that if you want to use one of their pictures in a book then give the IWM lots of $$$, free advertising and don't dare change it to fit your layout.

    You must, where you do any of the above:
    - acknowledge the source of the Information by including any attribution statements specified by IWM and any other third parties ( © ......) and where possible, provide a link to the source (eg.;
    - ensure that you do not adapt, manipulate, alter, crop or amend the Information in any way that changes the original;
    ensure that you do not sell the Information or use it in a Commercial way by, for example, including it in your own product or application which is used in a Commercial way, or by using it for the purposes of advertising or promoting Commercial products;

Share This Page