Information Services

Image Licensing

Images from the University of Edinburgh collections are regularly featured in academic articles, major publications, webpages and TV programmes.

The Centre for Research Collections has an 'Open by Default' policy for digital images of collection items. This means:

  • We no longer charge a fee for the re-use of our digital images.
  • With the exception of images containing sensitive content, most existing images not in copyright or subject to the Data Protection Act will be made available to download at high resolution for free under a Creative Commons CC BY licence.

Lothian Health Services Archive will also no longer charge permission fees, but retains a separate permissions process. For permission to reproduce images from the Lothian Health Services Archive collection, please contact them via their website:

Lothian Health Services Archive permissions page

How do I know what licence an image has?

Images in will be clearly marked with the appropriate licence, otherwise you can ask staff by emailing For new photography, CRC staff can inform you of the licensing status of the image(s) at the point of order.

Applying for Permission when an image is not marked CC-BY

Please use our online enquiry form.

Creative Commons Licensing

Most digital images of Edinburgh University collections material will have either a Creative Commons CC-BY licence or no licence. The licence status defines what you are allowed to do with the image.

CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution)

The CC-BY license is applied to photographs of all material which is not restricted by legislation (copyright or data protection). You do not need to request permission before using an image with a CC-BY license.

This licence allows you to do the following:

  • Share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format)
  • Adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material)

But you must:

  • Attribute (give appropriate credit to University of Edinburgh, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made to the image)

Material not available under a CC licence

Some images of collection items cannot be attributed a CC license, for example:

  • The University of Edinburgh does not own copyright for the original item, for example:
    • Images of artwork where the artist has given permission for a digital image to be displayed on the University webpages, but the image may not be used for any other purposes without permission
    • Images of archive material where the copyright holder has given permissions for a digital image to be displayed on the University webpages, but the image may not be used for any other purposes without permission
    • Digital images which were taken by an external photographer, and copyright for the digital image remains with the photographer
  • The original material contains sensitive information / imagery
  • The original material contains personal information, covered by the Data Protection Act

If you would like to use an image of collection material which does not have a CC BY licence, you must complete one of the application forms at the end of this page and return it to the CRC. Staff will then advise you if permission to use the digital image is granted and, where appropriate, direct you to the copyright holder for the original work.

Statement of Public Task

The University of Edinburgh complies with the Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations. For more information, please see our statement of public task.

Takedown Policy

We make every effort to ensure that content published on the platforms and does not infringe any person’s intellectual property rights. If you believe that any intellectual property rights have been infringed by any of the images hosted on these sites, please see our Takedown Policy.

Centre for Research Collections

Contact details



Main University Library
George Square

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