UK Freedom of Information requests

I have just discovered a website that allows UK citizens to make Freedom of Information requests.  Apparently it’s being used to query why the National Portrait Gallery is picking a fight with Wikipedia.  Useful to know, however.  I wonder if there are interesting questions that might be asked of the British Library and its high-price low-quality policy on manuscript reproductions.

But I have just stumbled on the result of one, addressed to the National Portrait Gallery (also posted here).  It’s about the way they stop people using images, so they can charge for licenses.

2008/9    235 licences granted
2007/8    413 licences granted
2006/7    295 licences granted
2005/6 est.    205 licences granted
2004/5 est.    305 licences granted

2008/9 £11,291
2007/8 £18,812
2006/7 £16,573
2005/6 £10,021
2004/5 £14,915

The Gallery has not calculated the cost of specifically administering the online rights programme exclusive of other Picture Library activities and therefore it does not hold the information you have requested.

Imagine if they said “do what you like.”  The images would be freely available online and used wherever you like.  The lost revenue would be… £10k a year.

So they have prevented us all from using the images on our websites (not that I particularly want to, but in general); in order to make a gross sum of ca. £10k a year.  And they claim they have no idea whether they even cover costs!

Precious, precious information this. 


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