Online rights income for manuscript images

[name removed] (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to The British Library

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The British Library did not have the information requested.

[name removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Sir or Madam,

I note that the BL charges a fee to websites that use digital images of pages from manuscripts from the BL collection.

Please would you let me know, for each of the past 5 years (either calendar or financial, whichever is more convenient):

How many requests were made for use of BL collection images of these items on third party websites.

How much income was received by the BL in consideration of the use of BL collection images of these items on third party websites.

Yours faithfully,

[name removed] [name removed]

[name removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Blog post about the request:

http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/?p=2118

Spencer, Nigel, The British Library

1 Attachment

Dear Mr [name removed],

Please find attached our acknowledgement of receipt of your Freedom of
Information request.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel Spencer
Research & Business Development Manager.

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Spencer, Nigel, The British Library

2 Attachments

Dear Mr [name removed],

 

I have attached our response to your Freedom of Information Request.
 British Library Reference: 0929.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Nigel Spencer

 

 

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Nigel Spencer The British Library
Research  and Business Development Manager 96 Euston Road
London
  NW1 2DB
T 020 7412 7014
E [1][email address
   
Mobile:  07881 852 177 

 

[2]http://www.bl.uk/research

 

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Iain Sproat left an annotation ()

Over 5 years to 2009 a total of just over £1.2M was received, from a total of 8810 requests (an average of ~£136 per request)

[name removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The tiny number of requests each year is interesting. Only 2000 online? I suspect that ordinary people order almost none of them. What I can't work out is what question to ask to reveal this.

[name removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of The British Library's handling of my FOI request 'Online rights income for manuscript images'.

My question related specifically to **manuscripts**, and income from reproduction of **these** items. The answer I received was in respect of **all items in the collection** which of course includes printed books, maps, newspapers and many other items. While the response was interesting, and thought-provoking, it doesn't really answer my question. It looks from the response as if the question was misunderstood?

Can the response be reviewed please?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/on...

Yours faithfully,

[name removed] [name removed]

[name removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Text, from PDF:

13 August 2009
Dear Mr Pearse,
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - REQUEST 0929
THE BRITISH LIBRARY
96 Euston Road
London
NW12DB
T +44 {O)843 208 1144
www.bl.uk
THE WORLD'S KNOWLEDGE
We have considered your request and provide answers to your questions in turn
below.
'How much income was received by the BL in consideration of the use of BL
collection images on third party websites.'
The revenue generated by charging for rights to reproduce images of items in the
British Library collections for the previous five financial years (April to March) was as
follows:
£ 2004/5 2005/6 2006/7 2007/8 2008/9
Total revenue 296,889 273,528 274,496 278,287 352,748
The number of requests for rights to reproduce images for which a charge was
made was as follows:
2004/5 2005/6 2006/7 2007/8 2008/9
Requests 1952 2090 2270 2770 1728
In certain cases, we waive the charge for rights for reproduction of images. Our
records do no enable us to produce precise figures for this period but the
approximate number of these is in the region of 800 per year.
Nigel Spencer
Research and Business Development Manager
T +44 (0)20 7412 nigel.spencer@bl.uk

[name removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Blog post about this here:

http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/?p=2354

Barlow, Simon, The British Library

1 Attachment

Dear Mr [name removed],

Please find, attached, an Acknowledgement of the above request for an
Internal Review and a request for clarification.

Simon J Barlow
Assistant Records Manager
Corporate Information Management Unit
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
E: [email address]
F: 0207 412 7093
T: 0207 412 7195

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[name removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Mr Barlow,

I have received your acknowledgement. You ask for clarification of the term "manuscripts".

The British Library has a catalogue of its manuscripts online here:

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/manuscripts/...

A definition of the scope of the catalogue is here:

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/manuscripts/...

Items contained in this catalogue would meet my need.

The items I have in mind are handwritten books and the like, particularly those written in western languages including Latin and Greek, but also Arabic, Syriac, Hebrew, Persian. This would probably also include papyrus fragments. However not printed books, maps, and the like.

I hesitate to *invent* a definition myself, as I imagine that, when permissions are sold, there is some form of categorization of the material? If so, whichever category would include the above, but not combine them with huge quantities of non-manuscript material would meet my need.

Yours sincerely,

[name removed] [name removed]

Fryer, Jonathan, The British Library

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Pearce,

Please find attached our response to your Freedom of Information Request
0933.

<<09.09.14 Response 0933.pdf>>

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Fryer
Records Manager (Information Compliance)
Corporate Information Management Unit

E: [email address]
T: 020 7412 7334

The British Library
St Pancras
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB

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[name removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Jonathan Fryer,

Many thanks for your kind reply, and the numbers are very interesting and helpful.

May I ask for a small clarification on what I'm looking at? Because I'm not quite certain from the wording on whether the reply is to precisely the question I asked (although it may be).

The question was as follows, highlighting the bit I'm unsure about:

"How many requests were made for use of BL collection images of these items **on third party websites**?
How much income was received by the BL in consideration of the use of BL collection images of these items **on third party websites**?"

The answer:

"The table below indicates the number of requests for rights to reproduce BL collection images of manuscript items, for which a charge was made, and the income derived from those transactions for the five years in question (etc)."

Are these numbers for *all* requests/income for permissions for BL images of manuscripts? (still a useful piece of information); or specifically requests/income for use of these images online (which was requested)?

I imagine, in my ignorance, that the majority of requests and revenue come from printed publications, rather than online use, you see.

It is the proportion of the amount the library makes from licensing images of manuscripts to other websites that I am trying to get at here (although I would have gone on to request these other details anyway, in order to get a balanced picture so in fact the BL has saved itself some effort here).

I hope you can help me with this.

Yours sincerely,

[name removed] [name removed]

Fryer, Jonathan, The British Library

Dear Mr. Pearce,

Please accept my apologies if the wording in our response was unclear. The
new set of figures sent to you in our FOI response 0933 are for all
chargeable requests for / income from permissions to use digital images of
British Library manuscripts, as per the first paragraph on the second page
of our response to your request:

"These figures represent all chargeable requests to use digital images of
manuscripts. We are not able to break down the figures further in order to
extract usage on third-party websites as this information is not held on
the Library's systems."

I am sorry that the Library is unable to answer your question in any more
detail than the figures that we have already provided.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Fryer
Records Manager (Information Compliance)
Corporate Information Management Unit

E: [email address]
T: 020 7412 7334

The British Library
St Pancras
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB

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Peter Powell left an annotation ()

Maybe you should ask why the Library has 3 prices for the same image depending on which department and which box you tick. Range of prices from £10 to £48.50 plus Vat!

Imaging Services:
Standards digital image £26.50
Premium digital image £48.50
Picture Library £10

Dont believe me? try asking for Cotton Nero D. IV, f.25v

A real case of buyer beware!!

[name removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

I was told by a head of department at the British Library that none of these prices are charged to BL staff and their friends. That is, these are specially high prices charged to everyone else. And I believe it. It explains why the prices have no logic, other than being very high.

In the British Army everyone eats the same food, on the basis that those who have power are thereby motivated to ensure that the food of everyone is of good quality.

But in the British Library, I get the impression that everything is run for the benefit of the staff. Anything else seems to be essentially treated as a sideline, to be exploited ruthlessly. At least, that's how the services for readers seem to be structured.

The illustration I use is the eating facilities. The readers have a corner of a corridor with no daylight. But, unbeknowst to most of them, on the other side of the serving area, is the staff eating area -- a large, bright area with lots of windows. Staff get the best, the readers must make do with what's left over.

If I am right, this means that the BL staff are abusing public funds, of course. That should be the job of a regulator. But I was quite unable to discover anything resembling an independent regulator of the British Library. I did write to the government department that hands over our money, and got back a "nothing to do with us" reply.

In short, everything that I have been able to find or experience suggests that the BL is a quango that exists for the benefit of those working there. (And it may always have been so). It does not serve the nation. It urgently needs reform.

If I am right, and there is no real regulation of these prices, levied purely on non-BL staff, then of course they can be, and will be, anything.

But the question is what can we do? Why not ask your MP to ask the BL why it levies different prices, and why the click of a digital shutter costs so much, when staff wages per hour can't be anything like the price charged? It will get a bureaucrat's response back, no doubt; but at least it will do something.