I'm aware a few discussions have cropped up regarding Crown Copyright and especially the IWM. However I was I was browsing something on wikipedia and recognised a picture from the IWN collection.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IWM-E ... 411126.jpg

What I found interesting is the obvious declaration that the work is in the public domain as its Crown Copyright and older than 50 years and hence ok to reproduce. This got me thinking so I did a quick check on the IWM collection website:


Many of the images are subject to Crown Copyright protection. Crown Copyright protected material may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium for research, private study or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as schools, colleges and universities). This is subject to the material being reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context. Where any of the Crown Copyright items on this site are being republished or copied to others, the source of the material must be identified, the copyright status acknowledged and picture reference numbers quoted (usually a two or three letter code followed by a series of numbers). Please contact imagesales@iwm.org.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false for further information about individual images.

Images purchased from the Imperial War Museum are for private and evaluation use only and are subject to the following terms & conditions

All other usages, including websites and private publishing, require a license. For further details, please contact imagesales@iwm.org.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false
Now this is interesting, because their declaration of the terms of reproduction for Crown Copyright material seems to fly in the face of the guidelines set down by the OPSI (ex HMSO) regarding crown copyright:


What is Crown copyright?
Copyright material which is produced by employees of the Crown in the course of their duties. Therefore, most material originated by ministers and civil servants is protected by Crown copyright.
So by that definition, any photo taken by a member of the armed services while on duty is an employee of the Crown. Wikipedia then goes on to quote a request for information from OPSI themselves, similar to the request I previously sent them:

http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 22055.html
It has long been nagging me about the policy of HMSO with respect to
Crown copyright material outside of the UK. Inside the UK the position
is clear: published material from 1954 or earlier is out of copyright
as it was published over 50 years ago. Outside the UK the position of
Crown copyright material has long been ambiguous.

I therefore sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Office
for Public Sector Information (what HMSO has changed its name to)
requesting clarification of the length of copyright for published
Crown copyright material outside the UK. I received the following
reply from their Information Policy Adviser:

"Dear David,

Thank you for your email enquiry dated May 23rd, 2005. Crown
copyright protection in published material lasts for fifty years from
the end of the year in which the material was first published.
Therefore, to use your example, material published in 1954, and any
Crown copyright material published before that date, would now be out
of copyright, and may be freely reproduced throughout the world.

I hope this information will be helpful to you, but if you have any
further questions please feel free to get in touch with me again."

So, it appears that Crown copyright material that has been published
in 1954 or earlier is considered public domain worldwide by OPSI and
is thus fair game for the Wikipedia to use.

David Newton
I then also found the following PDF guide for museums regarding Crown Copyright which helps clear some things up: http://www.museumscopyright.org.uk/crown-a.pdf

So at the moment, it appears as if the IWMs "terms of use" for Crown Copyright material actually go against the actual terms set down by the UK Government. Obviously media created by the IWM themselves is their own work and thus their copyright but I cannot see how the can claim it on photos taken by the RAF and it's employees within their collection.

I think it's time to write a letter to OPSI in regard to this matter and get some definite clarification and then maybe approach the IWM on this. While I would have no issue at all in paying for the cost of reproducing a photos to obtain a copy, how can they legitimately claim one has to a license to reproduce it in print? As I understand it attribution is the only requirement.