providing permission to publish of anonymous photographs

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      Jen Hughes

      Hi everyone. I have a question outside of the usual preservation context. I’d like to establish a rate schedule for reproducing photographs in my archival collection, but many of the photos are “orphan works” because they lack provenance – no photographer name, no deed of gift, etc.

      It seems clear that my institution can charge for at-cost reproduction services for research purposes, but can we charge additionally for permission to publish? We don’t own the intellectual property of these photos. I have been looking at Permission to Publish forms from other institutions, hoping to get a hint of policy. Some archives state that if they grant permission to publish, it does not constitute copyright clearance, and that researchers must obtain written permission from the original copyright owner. Other institutions state that in circumstances where they do not own copyright, they cannot grant permission to publish unless prior permission has been secured from the copyright owner.

      Which of the two policies is more “legally correct”? I am not looking to charge huge fees, but I need to sustain the archive. Thank you for your help with this!

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