Copyright, Collections, and Visitor Photography – Fredric Saunderson (National Library of Scotland, United Kingdom)

Fredric Saunderson is Rights and Information Manager at the National Library of Scotland and Chair of the UK Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance. Fredric shared with attendees how the National Library of Scotland has adapted its processed in two copyright areas: collection donations and visitor photography.

Fredric Saunderson. Photo: Nadine Loach, 2018

 Fredric highlighted that the library holds collections but does not necessarily hold copyright; an issue many museums, libraries and archives regularly have to deal with when looking at sharing or engaging with their collections. One of the key points made was that when accepting objects for donation, institutions must make clear the copyright status of the objects from the offset, and ensure this is documented appropriately. For example with a copyright form outlining the known copyright status, ownership, contact information where possible, and whether the donor is in a position to approve all or some copyright for particular usage.

As copyright guidance and legislation can be unclear and challenging, Fredric discussed the importance of clear guidance on copyright rules, and the reasons why these exist to be communicated to all collections users from visitors to exhibitions to researchers and staff.

In terms of developing visitor understanding of copyright and photography of their collections, The National Library of Scotland has made changes that enable and encourage visitor photography. For example, with ‘Photography Encouraged’ signage in exhibition and collections spaces. The signage gave an overview of the reasons for copyright law and how visitors can engage with collections through their own personal photography.

Importantly, Fredric quoted the UK Intellectual Property Office by stating that it is not infringement to put literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works on display. So, although Registrars must have a good understanding of copyright and implications for collections, it is also their responsibility to manage the risk and encourage engagement with collections through their display and research.

Written by Nadine Loach, Leeds Museums and Galleries