Gaining access to public records for publication

Late yesterday I received good news from Durham Record’s Office, they have granted permission for the publication of eight photographs (all of which I requested) associated with the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry of which my Great Grand Uncle was a part off during World War One.

These images are important in telling my Uncles story and they have been chosen carefully. All photographs are dated either April 1915 or just before. April was the month his battalion left England for the Western Front, and he died alongside many of his comrades on the 26th April 1915.

There are important guidelines regarding these images, which is understandable. I will list these as it may assist others also considering publishing their family history, although to be honest this is basic knowledge. The images are only allowed to be published in the book and not in any other way. they are not to be shared and specific wording provided by the records office must be used beneath each image.

The printed version of my book, is going to be a short run and archived in record centers and library’s and shared with family members. I will make no profit from this book. For that reason Durham Records office have wavered all cost that would usually apply to a commercial publication. All I need do is offer a donation as a thank you. 

The E-book planned for release after the initial release of the printed version, will be a commercial publication, all cost attributed to the images apply. Although I have chosen to pay these costs at a later stage, as the images are not needed until at least late April and May next year and I also need to make an important decision.

Due to the E-book being a digital format, it increases the risk that these images will be illegally copied, understandably the records office need to protect their archives for future use. For this reason all images they provide for a digital publication will be watermarked and i’m not talking about a name written through the middle, but the entire image, in such a way it’s difficult to see the photograph beneath, which have all ready faded with age anyway.

I appreciate and respect this rule, but I need to make a decision as to whether or not I want to pay £26 an image plus another £6.50 per image for the privilege of a watermark. Would I want images appearing in a digital publication that are difficult to see and look untidy or worse still, look as being illegally borrowed.

I may decide to not include the images, but instead add a note that images exist for private study from Durham Records Office.

But putting that little setback to the side, I am very grateful that Durham Record’s Office have allowed the re-publishing of these images to go ahead. It will make a big difference in commemorating his life. plus his story will be written, published and archived for perpetuity in important archive centers across the country. Hopefully his story will touch the hearts of descendants for years to come and his name will always be remembered.


3 thoughts on “Gaining access to public records for publication

  1. I find it interesting that these photos, obviously no longer protected by copyright. are not more accessible. That’s very frustrating—that an archive can hold them from the public this way, especially a government office. What could be there justification? It’s not like a private document where there are privacy issues, and certainly there are no national security issues. As a copyright law person, I find this just wrong. Once something is in the public domain, it should be freely available to the public without these costs and restrictions.

    • Sorry for the delay in replying Amy, I have been away from home last few days. But yes I totally agree with what you are saying, and also I would guess that the public archives are funded with tax payers money anyway. It’s all to do with money at the end of the day, sadly everything thing is. They don’t want these photographs digital because if they were they lose out on further profit. There is so much history and records held back simply because of this reason.

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