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Copyright ownership affects how collections can be used. If you can, transfer the copyright from the item donor to the community archive when you first take in an item or collection. This needs to be written, not just verbal.

This means you won't need to ask the donor for permission if researchers want to copy items or use them in publications - although checking with the donor out of courtesy is always a good idea.

Sometimes the donor will not hold the original copyright of a record as it may be a published item or created by someone else prior to the donor taking custody of it. In these situations, point researchers in the direction of the original creators or copyright holders for permission to copy or use the records.

You should also be aware of the concept of fair dealing. This allows a researcher to get an ‘insubstantial amount’ of a document or image copied for private research use without asking the copyright holder for permission – it does not apply for commercial use such as publishing the document or image. An insubstantial amount could comprise a few paragraphs of a document or a section of a map or photograph, for example, as opposed to a whole book, photo or map.

For example, a researcher is using your collections to write a history of your village. They are able to quote a few lines from a written memoir, but in order to use two full pages and an illustration from it in their final publication, they must seek the author’s permission first.

Copyright is a complex subject and is worth reading about in more detail. Read the copyright information on the GOV.UK website.

Read the collections management section for more information about adding items to your archive.

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