Have you seen the following?
I’m very confused about the copyright issue on certain photos in the collection of the Australian War Memorial. Will anyone be able to clarify their opinion for me? I’ve written to the AWM at the email address listed in a letter I received, but I’ve so far received no reply, though it’s only been a few days and it is now a weekend. (Not everyone can fire off a reply quickly, but I’d assumed the AWM had a firm policy that they could explain to me quickly.) Maybe next week…
I recently obtained, at a cost, two 12.5 x 17.5 cm photo prints of two images (one print of each) found in their online photo collection. The resolution on these prints is superior to what I can pull off of the internet. (The same is likely true for all of their online photos.)
In a letter from the AWM, accompanying the two photographic prints mailed to me, these words were typed:
“Please note that this Collection material is for your personal / reference use only. Should you wish to use this material for any other purpose – e.g. public display or exhibition, publication, or broadcast of any kind – please seek advice and authorization from the Memorial.”
What makes me scratch my head in confusion is this: the AWM website for each photo expressly states “Copyright expired – public domain”.
Under the link provided to explain the meaning of “public domain” comes this:
• This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.
You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
I have NO idea of what the AWM ultimately means, regarding my potential use of their photos. In anyone’s opinion, is there, or is there not, a fee associated with me using these photos “for commercial purposes”? I am under the impression that because the copyright has expired and the images are in the “public domain”, I wouldn’t have to pay the AWM anything should I want use the photos as I wish. The “public domain” link, in the words copied above, seems to prove it, but I also know that wanting to make money is not out of the ordinary.
No matter what, I plan to give a photo credit at the end of a caption to each photo I use, AWM or otherwise, and maybe a photo credit is all that the AWM would be required of me. I consider that a photo source credit is the proper way to go.
I’d rather not pay money just for the right to use a photo which very possibly can also be found a) in other photo archives, such as the Imperial War Museum and the RAF Museum (not uncommon, I’ve found out); b) online from a private source, such as a website; c) from a private book or magazine article; or d) in the collection of a veteran (and there are few of them around any longer) or another researcher.
Would someone kindly clarify his or her interpretation of "copyright" and fee requirements regarding my use of photos identified on the AWM website as “Copyright expired – public domain”?
Have you seen the following?
I asked the same question when I used some AWM photos for an article I wrote for ‘After the Battle’ magazine. They stated that as long as you acknowledged the AWM they were fine with it.
Unfortunately, any reply from the AWM will also be delayed as there is a public (i.e. bank) holiday on Monday, 3 Oct 22.
Last edited by Steve Brew; 2nd October 2022 at 12:55. Reason: Correction of grammar
41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
The more people explain the various copyright minefields the more confusing it gets. There is also a difference between copyright and licensing (or so I believe). Reproduction fees are perfectly okay.
Does Crown copyright apply to the Australian archives and what happens if the same photo is in the IWM collection - who is the copyright holder?
I did ask a question about records held by NARA (US Archives) which is copyright and licence free. But how does that work if the same Luftwaffe or USAAF Aerial Photo in in the Historic England collection collection and is not license free? The same photos ore also on NCAP which also requires a licence. Furthermore copies of the same photos are held and sold by certain private individuals who also claim copyright. Boom! just entered another minefield. I once requested clarification on a specific photo I bought of a well known auction site that was clearly printed in wartime - just got more confusion and lots of words to read but no clarification.
When you are trying to illustrate a book the cost of licensing photos far and away exceeds any sales at retail value. I'm not after a profit, just not a massive loss! This is probably why many amateur works never get to see the light of day. Long live the coffee table books!
They only seem to charge "user fees" and not copyright fees.. and the user fees seems quite reasonable at $15 for a publication < 1000 copies.
Aghhhh! Confusion reigns still! Thanks for the replies, and I'll await the (latest) official word from the AWM via email after the Monday holiday in Australia. Jagan, I completely missed the details you provided in the link, and per this info, there definitely is a charge per photo. However, John's experience is different, as the AWM "stated that as long as you acknowledged the AWM they were fine with it". There's a disconnect here, but, then I experienced a disconnect, in my favor, with the Imperial War Museum in the past. A person I dealt with, on great terms, said, sure, use our photo free of charge, and also some cinema footage, even though the IWM usually charges a user fee for publication of "their" material. I'm grateful for the waiver and hope the AWM grants me the same. Time will tell.
My other issue is photo resolution. I did pay for two prints, and the resolution of these is superior to either what I can download off of the AWM database or what I can copy off of the screen and convert to a jpeg. However, some of the images might be less than perfect focus, so to pay for a photographic print of every image I want to print might be an expensive mistake, because there's no guarantee that the resolution of the print would always be superior to that found in a downloaded image or an image I created via a screen copy. MIGHT be a costly error, to include the price of the print itself and also a postage fee to America. In other words, the version I can get from a free download or a screen copy might essentially be of a focus and resolution more or less equivalent to a supposedly higher-resolution print bought from the AWM. I'm on the other side of the planet from the AWM, so I can't visit Canberra to check out each original (original negative?).
And then there is the problem of the same image being found on more than one website, or in the collection of a veteran or researcher. In the Bill Kirkness memoir I turned into the book RAF LIBERATORS OVER BURMA, I included a photo given to me by a veteran Gunnery Leader on 159 Squadron, Bob Ustick, that he'd had in his possession since the war, yet the AWM has this same photo in their database. I simply used Bob's print for free, and I credited Bob; I did not use the AWM one (or any other AWM images, for that matter). Same exact image. It didn't cost me a penny, except for postage to and from Ohio, where Bob then lived (one of the few Americans flying with the RAF on 159 Squadron).
I do now understand the difference between user fee and copyright fee, and since all of the photos I'm interested in are in the public domain, only a user fee is called for, potentially. The fee, as Jagan's link states, is $15 per photo if the press run is less than 1,000 books, and that's Australian dollars. Currently $1 AUS = $.64 US, which equates to a user fee of $9.60 US per image. That helps a little, but the money adds up quickly...and I don't yet have a publisher (searching for one is more than a year away still), so I don't have any idea of the number of books that will (hopefully) be published.
And, if I'm as fortunate as John, if the user fee is waived, I'll be in luck.
Fortunately, I've acquired a few appropriate photos over the years, identical in some cases to what are found in the AWM database, from individuals who have given me free use of their photos -- like the one Bob Ustick lent me. I greatly appreciate online photo archives, like the AWM's, but money doesn't grow on trees (for a museum, also). PNK had some very apt words about the money situation for authors.
Fingers crossed that I'll receive a favorable reply from the AWM, but I'm not totally naive and know this may not be the case!
I have a question for John:
Did you only use the free downloaded Australian War Museum photos, or did you use higher resolution prints obtained from the AWM? I don't have Issue 131 of "After the Battle", where Mr. Google tells me your piece was printed, so I can't currently see the quality for myself! (Because the journal has ceased production - I think -, I'd better hurry up and order the missing issues, if still possible, to fill in a couple of gaps. I thought I had 131, but I guess after 130, which I have, I got cheap for a stretch before beginning again.
I'm assuming that you went with the higher resolution images, and if so, the granting of an exception from paying a user fee contradicts what I was told in a friendly and personable AWM response written on their Tuesday (I received the email late Monday night, my time). Here is an excerpt:
...you do not have to pay fees or seek permission to reproduce the low resolution photographs on the Memorial’s website which are available for free download, even for commercial uses as you’ve noted.
The Memorial charges user fees for publication for any material which we supply in high resolution, regardless of the materials copyright status. This includes material supplied as prints, as these photographs are derived from high resolution photographs superior to the low resolution images on our website. This fee is a user fee for publishing high resolution material, not a rights charge.
If you would like to proceed with publishing these photograph you’re welcome to either reproduce the low resolution photographs free of charge, or to pay a user fee to reproduce the high resolution digital prints (or scans of these prints). Please see a breakdown of these fees below. All fees are in AUD.
Publication print run (eBook inclusive)
User fee per image -
Up to 1,000 copies: $15.00
1,001 to 5,000 copies: $44.00
5,001 to 10,000 copies: $55.00
Over 10,000 copies: $77.00
If you would like to place an order to pay the relevant user fees you can either do so by returning a completed copy of the attached order form, or by going through the online checkout process and selecting the option titled ‘User fee only (image has already been supplied by AWM)’ under format. If you opt to do so, it would be much appreciated if you could include the publication details in the comments section of the checkout.
I'm guessing that the fees are based upon any publication run -- magazine or book. My kind of book would not have a wide audience, so a smaller press run would likely apply.
I do understand the reasoning behind AWM charging a user fee for the higher resolution prints, and I'm grateful that even the versions I can pull off of the Internet are free of charge.
I suspect that most, maybe all, of the images seen online are lower resolution versions, and while sometimes they are of decent quality, I would prefer sharper, more detailed options for any photo -- assuming that the higher resolution print is, indeed, of sharper detail; it was the case for each of the two prints I paid for. It's just that cost can be prohibitive, as PNK mentioned, should I want to use a few prints obtained from the AWM. Finding a free source for high resolution images -- such as is found on some websites, from a veteran or researcher's personal collection, or from NARA here in the US -- is my goal, but that's a tall order!
John, if you have a NARA source and an AWM photo that is the same, absolutely go with the NARA version, at no cost. I cited NARA for air photos used in my book (though I don't know if the same imagery is available in the UK; NARA holds a tremendous amount of air photography from the war, and it's all free to copy using my digital camera.) In my opinion (though I'm not a bleedin' attorney), you have every right to do so, and my hunch is that there would be NO legal ramifications for doing so.
Last edited by Matt Poole; 4th October 2022 at 16:15. Reason: Simple edit, adding the specific reference to "After the Battle"
The TNA charge licensing at £15 per photo of any document in their archive, even ones you took yourself. This sounds cheap but I counted up 110 photos I would like to use. It was actually cheaper to buy old WW2 manuals off eBay and use my own scans of them. I have done this for quite a bit and this includes some maps, charts and plans. Probably not cost effective over the whole but at least I have a little archive of original material which in some cases provided new information. The only downside is I have a massive chart case that is getting to heavy to lift!
Just as I posted I remembered another wheeze that I assume is used a lot, citing the source as "[Authors name] collection" Many IWM photos appear in books using this method - but is it legal?