Image Policy for York Museums Trust

Image Policy & Requests

Collections Image Policy

A few key points to remember about the images that YMT has published on its online collection:

  • All images currently published in the online collection are free from known third-party copyright restrictions
  • All images in the online collection are free to download
  • All images in the online collection are licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 or Public Domain
  • York Museums Trust expects to be attributed whenever an online collection image is used
  • To download an image, users are expected to complete an online form


What is available online?

Broadly speaking we have published images of objects that are in the public domain (i.e. out-of-copyright man-made objects) and images of objects not subject to third-party copyright restrictions (i.e. rocks, bronze age tools, wild fowl…).

We have not yet released any images that have (or we suspect have) copyright restrictions – like pictures of modern art, images of magazine covers or photos of chocolate boxes. To use an image of a copyrighted work we would have to seek permission from the person or persons who hold the copyright. We would also have to negotiate terms of use.


How do I get YMT’s openly-licensed images?

Currently, there are thousands of images in the online collection. All of these are free from known copyright restrictions and free to download and use. To download an image simply head to the online collection, find the object you are looking for and hit the download button.

We have created an online form to capture some basic information about image use.

What can I do with YMT’s online collections images?

Images of works on which copyright has expired are marked Public Domain. We have no particular legal rights over these images, so they can be used for any purpose. Old artworks are a good example of public domain works.

All we ask is that York Museums Trust is credited in the following way whenever a Public Domain image in our collection is used:

Image courtesy of York Museums Trust  ::  ::  Public Domain

Images of objects not subject to third-party copyright restrictions are by default copyright York Museums Trust (the copyright goes to the photographer – which in this case is the Trust).

However, York Museums Trust chooses to waive its rights and release the images under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence, which means they can be downloaded and used for any purpose as long as we are credited.

The credit line for CC BY-SA 4.0 licensed images, which must be displayed alongside any image that appears online or in print, is as follows:

Image courtesy of York Museums Trust  ::  ::  CC BY-SA 4.0

Geological specimens and old coinage are good examples of objects which are not subject to third-party copyright and which we have chosen to release the images of under an open licence.


Are there restrictions on how I can use my downloaded images?

There are no real restrictions on image use. However, the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence does have some important rules:

  • The image must be credited to York Museums Trust – Image courtesy of York Museums Trust  ::  ::  CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Crediting the Trust does not mean we endorse an image’s use, nor do we take responsibility for other legal infringements.
  • The image cannot be copyrighted by the person using it, it must be released under the same CC BY-SA 4.0 licence
  • Moral rights are not waived. York Museums Trust will object to images we have taken being used in derogatory or inappropriate ways



Can I share these images on social media?

Yes. Images in York Museums Trust’s online collection can be shared on social media. Sharing images is easy.

Just click on the Twitter or Facebook button at the bottom of any image you wish to share.

I’ve found an object online but it doesn’t have an image

Generally speaking there are two reasons why an item in the online collection would not have an image. Either, it has not yet been photographed or the object is subject to third-party copyright restrictions that prevent York Museums Trust from publishing an image of it.


Can York Museums Trust take a photo of an object for me?

York Museums Trust has limited digitisation capacity and many different priorities – such as preparing digital content for upcoming exhibitions or recording the condition of fragile objects.

As a rule we do not accept requests for the digitisation of particular items. If you have a compelling reason for the digitisation of an object then you can email and make your case.

We cannot guarantee a response and if we do agree to photograph an object for you there will be an opportunity cost associated with creating the digital image.


The image I downloaded is low quality.

York Museums Trust’s online collection is based on an internal catalogue.

Many of the images in this catalogue were taken for internal documentation purposes in the decade before the Trust had any intention of publishing its holdings online. Therefore, many images are not of marketing or publication quality.

Their usefulness is in showing the public what is in our collection.


What about pictures on other parts of York Museums Trust’s websites?

The open licensing York Museums Trust has applied to images in the online collection does not apply to images found elsewhere on the Trust’s websites.

Images found elsewhere may be subject to any number of copyright restrictions that prevent them from being re-used.

If an image is not clearly licensed as either Public Domain or CC BY-SA 4.0, assume that copyright restrictions apply and the image cannot be downloaded and re-used.


I’ve found an image in the online collection that is actually subject to copyright restrictions.

York Museums Trust makes every effort to ensure the images we release on the online collection are free from third-party copyright restrictions.

If you find an image in the online collection that is subject to copyright restrictions please email

We will deal with rights issues raised via this channel promptly.