Art Slide Library -- Guidelines for the Acquisition and Use of Images

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September 2000

(These guidelines are based on the Image Collection Guidelines published in 1999 by the VRA Committee on Intellectual Property Rights - - and also incorporate the previous Copyright Guidelines of the Art Slide Library that have regulated acquisition by copystand photography since 1983.)

"The acquisition and use of image resources, as with any intellectual property, is governed by legal conditions, as well as by practical, technical, and scholarly considerations. Intellectual property law, including the concept of Copyright, attempts to balance the sometimes competing interests of those who produce or provide such resources, and those who use them. It is the intent of this Guide to enable the visual resources professional to acquire image resources for educational, non-profit use in a manner that respects the rights and concerns of providers, while acknowledging public domain rights and educational exemptions such as Fair Use." -- VRA Image Collection Guidelines

The Art Slide Library's mission is to provide images in a variety of formats to support the curriculum of Brown University. Images from the Art Slide Library collection may be used for lectures by faculty, in-class presentations and other course-related projects by students, illustration of student papers (unpublished), course review, and testing. They may also be displayed at scholarly conferences or when delivering guest lectures at other non-profit institutions.


The Art Slide Library acquires visual resources by purchase, license, donation, and copystand photography (i.e., making slides from illustrations in print sources), as follows:

  1. We will purchase, license, or otherwise legally acquire the following types of images in developing a permanent archive to serve as a resource for teaching and related activities:

    • slides, photographs, or digital files from museums, galleries or other such institutions
    • slides, photographs, or digital files from vendors and image providers, including individual artists and scholars
    • slides, photographs, or digital files distributed on a free-use basis through educational or professional institutions, organizations and consortia
    • printed reproductions clipped from purchased or donated books, magazines, calendars, etc.
    • original photography (camera originals shot directly from the original building, object, or work of art), with permission obtained from rights owners when required

    If and when a license agreement terminates, and is not renewed, the images covered by the agreement will be removed from the archive.

  2. Gifts and donations may be accepted at the discretion of the Curator. Their use may be subject to restrictions or requirements by the donors. Donors of original photographic images in whatever form will be encouraged to grant in writing to Brown University discretionary rights over extended use, as well as physical custody, of the photographic materials. Donations of materials to which the donor does not hold the rights will be accepted only if accurate documentation of their source, including rights holders, can be provided.

  3. Images created by copystand photography, photocopying, and scanning from published materials for inclusion in the permanent archive are subject to the following considerations:
    • Images are needed for a particular course taught at Brown University.
    • Images of suitable quality are not readily available at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time from any of the options listed above. (NOTE: When the need for an image is immediate, leaving insufficient time to obtain it by purchase or license, a copy in the desired format will be made for temporary use while a purchase is pending or a license agreement is under negotiation.)
    • Images will not be shared between or among other educational institutions if such use is prohibited by the terms of their acquisition.
    • Images will be used for comment, criticism, review, analysis, discussion, or other similar purpose associated with instruction or scholarship.
    • Images will be used only for purposes that are both nonprofit and educational.
    • The number of images from a single published source will be limited to a reasonable amount, usually 10% (or one image, if there are fewer than 10).
    • Digital images that are scanned from the analog collections under "Fair Use," as well as those for which the license restricts use to the Brown community, may be used only under conditions that prevent non-Brown users from accessing them.
    • Access to scans made in-house for use in a particular course will be terminated at the end of the course. If the scan is to be re-used in a subsequent semester, for that course or another, it will be rechecked for availability. It will be replaced by a purchased or licensed image if one has become available in the interim.

    If the above conditions can be met, it is likely that making images and digital files from published materials will be within "Fair Use" as outlined in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. The four factors to be considered in determining if a use is a "Fair Use" are: (1) purpose and character of the use; (2) nature of the copyrighted work; (3) amount and substantiality of the material used; and (4) the effect on the market.

    The staff of the Art Slide Library will determine when "Fair Use" applies for images in the collection that are to be digitized for curriculum support, and when "Fair Use" does not apply, they will make a reasonable effort to obtain permission. When images from the Art Slide Library collection are to be used for other purposes, such as display on an unrestricted web site, on a CD-ROM distributed outside the Brown University community, or in print publications (including scholarly publications)–it will be the individual user’s responsibility to determine that the use is a "Fair Use" or to seek permission. Staff of the Art Slide Library will assist the individual in determining the names and addresses of rights holders.

    Public Domain images (those in which neither the underlying work of art documented nor the photographic reproduction itself is subject to copyright) may be safely acquired by any appropriate means, including copystand photography or scanning. Use of such images is unrestricted.


To the extent that such information is available, all images acquired for the collections of the Art Slide Library will be identified with the following documentation, which will be available to collection users:

  1. source of image
  2. year of acquisition
  3. in the case of a purchased or licensed image, the provider's inventory or identifying number or code

Since 1989, copyright notices have been included in the catalog records and on labels of slides and photographs. As older materials are replaced, re-labeled, re-cataloged, or digitized, copyright notices will be added.


While the traditional means of display for such image archives has been through projection, or otherwise viewing the physical surrogate (photograph, slide), the introduction of new technologies, specifically the digital environment of the Internet and the World Wide Web has expanded the display options. There is little in the way of legal precedent, code, or case law which addresses the issues particular to educational image archives. However, it seems reasonable to expect that digital materials should be available to the same user group that the analog collection serves, for the same purposes.

Analog materials acquired as outlined above may be used in digital format as follows:

  1. Images purchased or licensed are subject to the conditions specified at the time of purchase or according to license agreement. For purchased slides and photographs, permission will be obtained from the vendor (or other rights holders) before scanning for digital display.
  2. Gifts and donations are subject to restrictions made at the time of contribution. In addition, a gift of images purchased by the donor may be subject to the conditions of the original purchase.
  3. Images made by copystand photography may be digitized and used digitally according to the same criteria under which they were originally acquired for analog use, i.e., the four-factor analysis of "Fair Use."
  4. Thumbnail images (those fitting into a 145 x 145 pixel window) may be displayed without restriction, but copyrighted images of higher resolution will be made available only to Brown University users. Access to each course web site will be available only to students registered for the course.


These guidelines will be posted on the web site of the Art Slide Library as well as in the rooms housing the collections. Web sites using digital images from the Art Slide Library will include a general statement about proper use of copyrighted materials (see below) in addition to copyright notices for individual images.

"Students may download, transmit, and print out images for personal study and for use in the preparation of academic course assignments and other requirements for degrees, may display images in the classroom, and may keep works containing images in their portfolios. Copies of images may not be published, disseminated to people not enrolled in the course, displayed on unrestricted web sites, or used for any purpose that is commercial and for profit."


Adherence to University guidelines does not shield an individual faculty or staff member from an action for copyright infringement. An action for copyright infringement may be brought against an individual faculty or staff member as well as his/her institution. An individual who does not comply with the copyright laws and follow institutional guidelines may be personally liable for some or all of the damages associated with copyright infringement due to his or her activities. The University can assume responsibility for the defense of a personal action against the individual only when the individual has used the image for curriculum support in accordance with these guidelines and in performance of the individual’s duties and responsibilities at Brown.


At Brown University, the Curator and Associate Curator of the Art Slide Library are responsible for carrying out the principles outlined above. Any scanning of images from the Art Slide Library’s existing slide and photograph collections by faculty or students must have prior approval of one of the curators, who will determine whether "Fair Use" applies. Such decisions will be made in consultation, if necessary, with the Director, Scholarly Communication and Library Research, and/or the Office of the General Counsel.

When "Fair Use" is deemed not to apply, permissions for scanning images from the Art Slide Library collection in support of the curriculum will be sought by Art Slide Library staff from image vendors or other rights holders. Reasonable effort will be made to obtain permissions. In some cases, especially when the response is deemed more likely to be favorable, Art Slide Library patrons will be asked to send permission requests themselves. (A sample letter will be provided.) If the rights holder cannot be identified or contacted, or if no response is forthcoming, an image may not be digitized; if it has been digitized pending permission, the digital copy must be destroyed.