Petition Closed

End fees for images of historic pictures in national museums

This petition had 290 supporters

"The fees charged by the UK’s national museums to reproduce images of historic paintings, prints and drawings are unjustified, and should be abolished. Such fees inhibit the dissemination of knowledge that is the very purpose of public museums and galleries. Fees charged for academic use pose a serious threat to art history: a single lecture can cost hundreds of pounds; a book, thousands.

Fees are also charged despite the fact that the artworks in question are not only publicly owned, but out of copyright (that is, made by artists who died more than 70 years ago). Museums claim they create a new copyright when making a faithful reproduction of a 2D artwork by photography or scanning, but it is doubtful that the law supports this. Museums' rules for using images are confusing and inconsistent, and do not raise meaningful funds once costs are taken into account. We urge the UK's public museums to follow the example of a growing number of international museums (such as Holland’s Rijksmuseum) and provide open access to images of publicly owned, out of copyright paintings, prints, and drawings so that they are free for the public to reproduce."

The following art historians and others signed the above letter which appeared in The Times newspaper, 6 November 2017.  Please join them by adding your name to this petition.

  • Hugh Belsey MBE, Senior Research Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre
    Diana Dethloff FSA, University College London
    Dr Rhoda Eitel-Porter, Editor, Print Quarterly
    Professor Anthony Geraghty, University of York
    Sir Nicholas Goodison FBA, FSA
    Antony Griffiths FBA, Chairman, The Walpole Society
    Dr Bendor Grosvenor
    Michael Hall FSA, Editor, The Burlington Magazine
    James Holloway CBE, former Director, Scottish National Portrait Gallery
    Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times
    Professor Martin Kemp FBA, FRSE, University of Oxford
    Alex Kidson, independent art historian
    Michael Liversidge FSA, FRSA, Emeritus Dean, Faculty of Arts, Bristol University
    Dr Matt Lodder, University of Essex
    Dr Thomas Marks, Editor, Apollo
    Dr Alexander Marr, FSA, FRHistS, University of Cambridge
    Dr Dorothy Price FSA, University of Bristol, Editor, Art History
    Dr Janina Ramirez, University of Oxford
    Dr Jacqueline Riding, author and independent art historian
    Dr Malcolm Rogers CBE FSA, Director Emeritus, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
    Pontus Rosén, CEO, Association for Art History
    Professor Simon Schama CBE FRSL, Columbia University
    Dr Katherine Schofield, King’s College London
    Dr Robin Simon FSA, Editor, The British Art Journal
    Professor David Solkin FBA, Courtauld Institute of Art
    Dr Richard Stephens FSA
    Dr Duncan Thomson, former Director, Scottish National Portrait Gallery
    Professor Michael White, Head of History of Art, University of York

Today: N is counting on you

N A needs your help with “End fees for images of historic pictures in national museums”. Join N and 289 supporters today.