Copyright is a complex area, and the following notes are for guidance only.
What the Library is permitted to supply
Single copies may be made of copyright material for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study, reference, criticism or review or news reporting, of not more than one item (article or page) from any one issue of a newspaper of periodical, if a copyright declaration is signed. Written permission of the copyright holder is not required in these instances.
However, written permission is required from the owner of the copyright if multiple copies of single items are involved, or more than one article from a single issue is required, or if an article is intended for reproduction, exhibition, or display.
If the copy is needed for a commercial purpose, you must have the prior permission of the copyright owner or pay a copyright fee.
Breaching copyright law is an offence. You are legally responsible for any copies made.
Duration of Copyright
For an unsigned or anonymous article: copyright expires 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made, or made available to the public. For example, a newspaper published in 1930 is out of copyright in 2001.
For a signed article: copyright extends until 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author died.
The ownership of copyright will depend on whether the journalist was a staff reporter or a freelancer, whether the article was a syndicated article, and so forth. When an article is prepared as part of a journalist's permanent employment, the copyright belongs to the publisher; otherwise it probably still belongs to the author. Rules on commissioned articles are complex and advice should be sought.
Permission to use copies supplied by British Library Newspapers in printed, electronic, or broadcast form must be requested from the Permissions department.
The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) Sticker Schemes provide a simple way in which you can pay a copyright fee, for both our reading room staff-operated service and self-service copying, and then lawfully copy an article from a newspaper, magazine or journal for commercial purposes.
Changes to UK Copyright Law
UK copyright law was revised in 2003 to align it with a European Union directive on copyright. The CLA and the British Library jointly published notes about how the changes might affect users of copyright publications.
You can also read more about the revised legislation by visiting one of our external links.