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Re: Publishing photos of museum display specimens



> Hi all;
>
> What, if any, are the legal details of publishing
> photographs one has taken of publicly displayed fossil
> specimens? Assuming that an institution allows
> photography of their exhibits to begin with, does the
> museum have any say in how those images are used? Do
> they have any "copyright" in the images of the fossils
> in their collections? Are any other permissions (apart
> from compliance with the museum's rules and
> restrictions on photography within its halls) required
> before one would be able to publish these images for
> profit?
>
> Thanks in advance,

It varies on a museum-by-museum basis.  You'll need to talk to someone
at the museum in question.

The Natural History Museum in London, for example, allows photography
in their collections only on the condition that they hold copyright on
the resulting photographs -- something I didn't realise when I first
started posting photos of the NHM's Wealden sauropod vertebrae on
SV-POW.  Informally, at least, they are happy for us to continue doing
that so long as we acknowledge their copyright each time we post, and
don't do anything that could be construed as commercial -- such as
making Xenoposeidon T-shirts available, even at cost-price.

The Humboldt Museum fur Naturkunde in Berlin, on the other hand, is
generally happy for photos of their material to be used anywhere,
subject only to the condition that the photograph caption says where
it was taken.

This is one reason that photos of their brachiosaur mount appear more
often in newspapers (even British ones) than photos of the Natural
History Museum's Diplodocus mount.  (The other reason is that
brachiosaurs are more awesome than diplodocids.)

-- Mike.