Who owns the photo rights?


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Hi folks. I've got a question in my mind,


I'm about to publish a carnivorous plant book in Finnish and I've got a photo taken from 2016 ICPS Conference that I'd like to add in my book. Its a photo taken of an old plant speciment that was displayed at Kew's private plant museum, or how should I describe ithat place.. Oh well I was just thinking is it legal to publish a photo from their collection in my "commercial" book. I know the photo is mine, but the collection was private and also when it comes to earning some little money with this book of mine.

What are your thoughts? I don't want to get accused :tongue:

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My understanding (based on my wife's experience as an artist) is that if you took the photo of the plant then you own the copyright.  If you took a photo of Kew's own photo of the plant that may be considered to be making a reproduction of the original which would most likely be an infringement of any copyright, unless they had granted you permission to take it (for commercial purposes).

To use someone elses photo you should get their permission first (they may or may not grant permission) and you should let them know that it will be used commercially.  If you do get permission you could use it and would usually credit the photographer in the book. 

The key points are if you took it, you own it but you may still be able to use others photos if they grant permission.

Clearly for a commercial venture you need to get this right so a bit of official legal advice might be worthwhile too.

Good luck with your book.


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Hi Snowwy,

I think various museums and venues have different attitudes.  I have been taking photographs and measuring pony pack saddles for many years, usually by prior arrangement as they are often kept in store rooms. Only The National Museum of Wales has ever stipulated that I must write for written permission to use my photo's if I publish them.  I've never used the photo's taken there but when using others taken elsewhere in displays and talks I have always stated where they were taken and stated gratitude for access. I personally would contact them out of politeness, I would be surprised if they refused or charged.  Having said that,  my brother who is a professional photographer says that when taking photo's of flower beds in Birmingham parks they used to appear and demand a fee of £150 and that was many years ago!  The photo copyright is yours but your publisher should be able to advise about the legal situation. Good luck with your book.

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Rules of the Herbarium

Visits to the Herbarium

The Herbarium is open to researchers by appointment only.  If you would like to arrange a visit to the Herbarium, please ensure you apply by email at least two weeks in advance* of your expected arrival and your email must contain the following information:

Email subject: Please start with the word VISIT and the date of arrival and departure (e.g. VISIT 20 – 23 July 2016). Please note we are closed at the weekend and public holidays.

Taxonomic groups: Please indicate all the plant families or genera you wish to look at.

Region of interest: Please indicate the continent and/or countries you are interested in.

Exact dates of stay: Please repeat this information, ensuring that there are at least two clear weeks from the email date to the date when you wish to visit Kew. 

Plant material: Please indicate if you intend to bring live or preserved specimens to Kew and what it is you are bringing in case permits are required, e.g. CITES. Please give yourself adequate time to inform Kew as permits may take time to issue.

Your details: Please ensure you include your full name and full address of your institution or your personal address if you are a private researcher.

Confirmation: If you are a student, please ask your supervisor to request the visit on your behalf to confirm that the research is required for your studies.

* For overseas visitors requiring a letter of support for a visa application, please ensure you apply for your visa at least three months in advance of your visit.

Visitors with potential commercial interests (e.g. a representative of a commercial horticulture company) should be asked to sign the non-commercialisation undertaking. Discuss with your line manager if you are unsure about how to proceed.

Non-commercialisation undertaking (Word doc)


If you read the document it says amongst other things:

In particular, I agree that:

§  I will only use the information and/or images for scholarly, education or research purposes;

§  I will not sell, distribute or use, nor transfer the information and/or images to anyone else for profit or for any other commercial application;

§  I understand that copyright in information and images associated with the herbarium specimens is owned by Kew or by Kew’s licensors;

§  I will acknowledge the source of the information and/or images with the words “With the permission of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew”;

Seems clear to me...


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