By Naomi Korn, CEO and Sean Waterman, Head of Intellectual Property (IP)

Over the last couple of weeks, Naomi Korn, CEO, Sean Waterman our Head of IP, and Sofia Carroll, one of our Information Governance Managers have been out and about online and around the country discussing copyright and data protection issues with colleagues.

Sean was on the panel of the Association of Cultural Enterprises Picture Library Symposium. One of the topics discussed was ‘Are picture libraries commercial businesses or part of an institution’s public task?’ Sean argued that across some cultural heritage institutions, the nature of their collections may result in insufficient demand to consistently generate significant levels of income from the licensing of their images. Staff salaries and the costs of updating and maintaining image licensing systems may also result in picture libraries making relatively low profits or running at a loss. Judging a picture library solely on profit or loss however fails to recognise the value it can bring to an organisation in supporting its public task, as well as supporting other commercial activities.

Moreover, internally, exhibitions, displays, commercial publications, product development, websites and social media channels all require image content. A picture library team’s knowledge and experience in licensing out images make it an ideal internal service provider for image and rights management across the organisation. It can ensure deadlines are met, the risks of copyright infringement are minimised, and colleagues are free to focus fully on their own roles.

When a picture library changes its focus from commercial licensing to providing an internal service its staff may need to operate outside of their comfort zone. Their remit may expand to encompass areas of copyright and IP they are unfamiliar with so they will need support. They should be given time and resources, including training and or mentoring, so they can expand their knowledge and build their confidence. The return on investing in career development will be the higher level of copyright support they provide.

Naomi and Sofia presented at this year’s Business Archives Conference – “The Digital Everyday” on the topic of access to archival content and information rights: striking the right balance in data protection.

They explained that since archives hold various records of significance, many of which include personal data, archivists must balance providing access to these materials whilst safeguarding individuals’ information rights. This comes with challenges because there are ethical, procedural, and regulatory considerations, notably data protection. To address this, in 2020, The National Archives commissioned Naomi Korn Associates to produce a Data Protection Toolkit for Archive Services, in collaboration with an advisory group of archivists. The National Archives is the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. It is the guardian of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents.

The toolkit has been designed to support archivists deal with managing requests for access to personal data within archival collections. The toolkit provides a structured approach to decision making as well as offering helpful checklists, forms and templates that can be adapted and used within archive service. So far, hundreds of archive professionals have accessed the toolkit, increasing their confidence and skills in this crucial area. Request access to the toolkit here.

Naomi Korn Associates offer a range of copyright and data protection services to help organisations understand how to remain legally compliant when utilising image content as well as how best to protect and optimise their assets. We also provide downloadable resources, operational tools and templates, jargon-free advice and practical training to ensure organisations comply with copyright and data protection legislation on a day-to-day basis. For more information contact