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photo permissions: libraries & archives

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Does anyone here have experience getting (or, perhaps more to the point, NOT getting!) photo permissions from libraries and archives? For a project I'm working on, I'd like to include a few images, including one from the British Library that's already available digitally, and one from the Bodleian Library, but I'm wondering if that's feasible. I'm still in the early stages, and I could substitute images from American libraries and universities, if that would be simpler. Any ideas about what has worked well, and what to steer clear of? Thanks!
#1 - June 11, 2015, 07:33 AM

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I don't know for a fact, but I am almost sure that you must get permission to use another person's photo.  You must always credit sources from info you've used for your ms. 

ALTHOUGH: If you use lyrics from a song, you only need permission if you use over so many words.  So, maybe giving credit to the photographer may be enough, if your only using one picture, but if you're using more you may need to ask permission. 

As you can see, I've been a big help :)
#2 - June 30, 2015, 12:30 PM

Your publisher will definitely want you to obtain permissions. I'm sure if you contact the libraries there's someone there who knows how to do this. They may even have a standard form.
#3 - July 03, 2015, 09:26 PM
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Credit isn't a substitute for permission or permission fees. Libraries and archives can either grant permission or tell you the rights holder.

Caution about song lyrics: These are vigorous protected and the cost for permissions can be high. Unless you have a big budget, it's better to avoid including them, IMO.
#4 - July 04, 2015, 06:16 AM
« Last Edit: July 04, 2015, 06:18 AM by Kell »
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What Kell said. Also, there's a Catch-22 involved. A client wanted permission to use some Rolling Stones lyrics. I investigated for him (the music company that deals with the Stones' rights is local, and as soon as I press Send I'll remember the name). IIRC, the form for obtaining permission wanted to know the exact usage, including an uploaded pdf so they could see it in context. Since this was a self-pubbed book, he'd basically have to have the book designed and typeset before he'd have been able to find out if he could use the lyrics. I persuaded him that since the lyrics were not essential to his memoir, it was not worth ticking off Mick Jagger.

My client got no satisfaction, but he tried and he tried and he tried.
#5 - July 04, 2015, 09:34 AM

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Before you have a publisher in the picture, all you can really do is *locate* items that would work. Many library websites offer the actual permissions form online. If not, emailing the person who sounds like the relevant contact or even just using the general contact link will usually bring a response and information. I found libraries to be very helpful in this way.

All the permission forms I've seen have asked you to name the publisher and explain exactly how the image will be used. So until you have a contract, the actual permissions-getting doesn't go forward.

I'd do my best to research things you really want (which may be pricey) and also free things that will do if you get no illo budget. Find as many workable images in all price ranges as you can. What you end up using will depend on what your publisher will pay for, if anything. You probably wouldn't want to pay any/many of the permissions fees yourself, as they can quickly eat up your advance and more. It ends up costing you money to write the book.

I don't think geography will stop you; the images will almost certainly be emailed to you anyway. I actually got one from a British photographer who didn't ask for anything in return except a photo credit and a copy of the book when it came out. (Yes, I dropped my teeth.) What's going to make the difference in whether you use any one image or not is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
#6 - July 04, 2015, 11:10 AM
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Thanks for your help, everybody. You gave me a ton of useful information, mrh---much appreciated!
#7 - July 05, 2015, 05:26 PM

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