How much does the BL make by charging websites to display images of mss?

If I buy an image of a page of a manuscript from the BL, I can’t put it here without paying the BL some huge fee a year.  So of course I don’t.  So I don’t commission the photograph either.

Imagine if it cost nothing.  Wouldn’t we all tend to use these images?  Wouldn’t we all buy more images?  We would, wouldn’t we?

So all this access is being stifled.  Well, I wondered how much the BL make from this.  After all, if they don’t make any money, they shouldn’t be doing it.

I’ve just placed a Freedom of Information request here.  Let’s see what they made over the last five years.  How many licenses they sold.

I bet it’s very few. 


4 thoughts on “How much does the BL make by charging websites to display images of mss?

  1. Very good point.
    The idea that you can buy an image and not then use it seems self-evidently wrong.
    I sympathise with libraries and galleries that have to bear the costs of putting everything online while they don’t get the money to make it possible, but this can’t possibly be a rational solution.

  2. I think we have to remember that the people who devise these policies are not businessmen; they are not politicians; they are not qualified to determine what is right for the nation. They are fairly low grade public servants, and the fees are largely plucked out of the air.

    Consequently you get idiocies like that.

    It looks as if Wikimedia is going to stand up to the National Portrait Gallery, which is demanding total control of all images of stuff in its collection. Wiki has rightly accused them — and in the national media — of betraying their public service mission.

    But in a way this is the same. So if Wiki get a good court result, this may be something that will unblock.

  3. Actually buying an image and NOT having the right to put it online is considered standard for remote-sensing images. The rational is that you buy the license to use the image, the company that owns the satellite maintains ownership of the picture until it loses commercial value

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