|Stephen Alsford, Webmaster at the Canadian Museum of Civilization very kindly responded to our e-mail asking about how the Museum thinks about requests for permission for images and information and about museum copyright issues. If you want to see this site go to the LINKS PAGE. This is what Mr. Alsford wrote:|
The Web has created a very different use environment -- one with which many institutions are still trying to come to terms. Some uses that are requested are to the benefit of the Museum, such as when the intent of the user is to use the image as a hyper link to our site (or some page within our site). Other uses are, however, for the benefit of the user, and it is here that the situation can be complex.
On the one hand, a much wider range of users is made possible, because of the way the Web democratizes the "publishing" of information; the majority of Web sites are being produced not by traditional publishers, or by for-profit institutions, but by private individuals or groups. It does not follow, however, that this private publishing is necessarily either for educational or for non-profit purposes. The distinction between educational and commercial is no longer as clear-cut. If, for example, a site offering educational material inserts ads on its pages, does that make it a commercial site? Some sites such as Geoweb oblige their users to have ads on their web pages, yet the users do not profit from the ads.
On the other hand, the Web also makes it less necessary to create copies of digitized materials for every new information product, since it is possible to link from one location on the Web to another location. Part of the power of the Web is its ability to bring together, in that way, materials at diverse geographic locations, so that virtually they appear to be part of an integrated unit.
These and other complications make it difficult to take an existing policy, applied to traditional requests for images, and adapt them to the more complex environment of the Web. While the Canadian Museum of Civilization's purpose is essentially educational and it wishes to encourage the dissemination of knowledge about Canadian heritage, it does try to recoup some of the costs it incurs in its work by applying fees for use of materials over which it has copyright, in appropriate circumstances.
In addition, we are required by federal government policy to avoid giving an advantage to any person or organization in competitive situations in which financial gain is being sought. (Here's a problem close to home, which you might want to think about: since ThinkQuest is a competition with a material gain for the winners, would the Canadian Museum of Civilization be in violation of federal government policy if it aided selected competitors by giving them information which it did not make generally available to all competitors?).
Having said all this, let me get back to your question by saying that we address requests for use permissions related to our images on a case-by-case basis.
To do this we need requesting parties to provide us with information:
* We need to know the number of images being requested (we cannot give a blanket permission in response to a "Would you mind if we use some images from your web site?" type of request.
* We need a clear identification of the image(s) for which they are requesting a use permission -- such as the address of the Web page on which it appears, and preferably the filename or a description of the image; our first task is to determine whether the image in question lies within the copyright of the Museum, which is not necessarily the case - we too obtain one-time use permissions to present on our Web site images in the copyright of other institutions, and cannot pass on use permissions to third parties. In particular, in the case of contemporary art works, the situation is complex because -- while we may have a work in our collection, we do not necessarily hold copyright on that work, and therefore are not necessarily in a position to give use permissions.
* We also need requesters to give us a clear indication of in what context the image is to be used; including, for example, the subject of the "publication" (we naturally don't want our images being used to misrepresent a subject, or particularly to convey hate messages, for instance), and whether the use will be in a classroom presentation, a written report, a web page available only on an Intranet, or a web page accessible to everyone through the WWW. Will the purpose be purely educational, or will there be for-profit elements involved (e.g. charging users for access to the information, or recouping costs through advertising).
* And we need to know things such as the intended size/scope of the audience (distribution) and the length of time for which the image will be used.
All these things will help us determine a) if permission can be given,
I hope this information will be helpful to your project. Should you wish to investigate or discuss it in more detail, you can contact the officer here who is responsible for use permissions. She -- Nicole Chamberland -- works for our Library, Archives, and Documentation Services. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org You should address to her your request to use an image of the museum in your project.
With good wishes for your project,