Library cataloging slides, Linking pictures to record

← Return to forum

  • We are in the process of cataloging a slide collection. These are slides of framed items that are hanging in museums. We are guessing that the copyright are owned by the individual museums. We would like to scan these and put a URL link of the scanned item in the catalog record. We can put a watermark on these items and a copyright statement such as “NOTICE: This material is protected by Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.)” Most of these slides are from 1960 and 1961.

    We want to make sure we are not in violation of any copyright laws when we do this. Would using thumbnail pictures make a difference, rather than full screen pictures? We do not intend to make copies of these for patrons. Any suggestions or advice would be welcome.

    Dawn Olmsted Swanson
    Technical Services Librarian
    Kettering University
    1700 West Third Ave.
    Flint, MI 48504
  • Hi Dawn,

    The law is so fuzzy with art reproductions. If the original work of art is in the public domain (for example, pre-1923), and the slides are exact reproductions of the original work, you would be okay. If the reproduction adds some sort of new element of creativity, or took some unusual skill to photograph, you are less safe. Photographs of sculptures are particularly problematic because it takes some skill to photograph a three-dimensional work and make it representative of the original (less so with a 2-D work). If the art is 1923 or after, you would have to use more caution because the original work is still under copyright. Museums that own the original public domain works as well as companies that sell images (Davis, Universal, Corbis, etc.) do indeed try to claim copyright to images whether or not the works are in the public domain.

    I think in any case, you would be fine using just thumbnails of the works, not full-screen images, and including a copyright notice (I would use the phrase "may be protected"). I'm assuming your goal is just to catalog and not to provide access for art students? (I know your goal is not to make copies for patrons.)


Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.

← Return to forum