Chicago’s Newberry announces more liberal
rights policy for online collections

Chicago’s Newberry Library has moved a long way from when I first started looking for historic graphic arts images to reproduce in 2004. Of course they had a lot of wonderful material, but to use something–even something you could tell from their online catalog they possessed–you had to go in in person, request the item, examine it, and fill out an order form requesting a photograph. If you were going to publish it, you also had to fill out another request for publication form. Fees were required, certainly for taking the photograph (which could only be taken by the library’s photographer), and maybe for the reproduction, depending upon where it was to be used. This is their new policy:

The Newberry Library announced this week a major update to our policy regarding the use of collection
images for new scholarly and creative work. All images derived from collection items are now available to
anyone for any lawful purpose, whether commercial or non-commercial, without licensing or permission
fees to the library. This policy applies to everything from pictures researchers take in the library’s reading
rooms to the 1.7 million high-resolution Newberry images currently available online. The policy is intended
to encourage users, wherever they may be, to interact more freely with items in our collections.

This is similar to the policies in effect for many European libraries.

–Bob McCamant

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