Reuters photographic copyright woes
October 27, 2014 1:33 PM   Subscribe

My spouse is trying to submit their D.Phil thesis to an online research archive. Archive wants all content to not be in breach of copyright. Thesis has a photograph in it which requires copyright permission but we're stumped on how to get it. What now?

My spouse is submitting their completed (!) passed (!) thesis for publishing to an online research archive. This thesis has two pictures attached. One's Creative Commons and therefore only needs sixty forms filled out and a minimal blood sacrifice etc, but the other one's muddier waters. It was originally found on the National Geographic site, and it's this from this article -- a photo that's been reproduced in a number of outlets from the Mirror to Kidzworld to the Daily Mail. We've ascertained that the photographer is Pawan Kumar, a non-photographer member of Reuters staff, but there's no obvious way to get into contact with him to ask permission. There's a lot of arcane instructions on the Reuters website on how to use their content online, but not so much in a publishing context.

What's our best option at this point? My spouse will not actually be a graduated spouse until this thing's properly submitted, and our Google sleuthing is only turning up so much. We'd be incredibly grateful for any help: at this point the mere mention of the word 'thesis' casts a dark pall upon the house.
posted by monster truck weekend to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is the photo 100% necessary? I only ask because you may have been adrift in Thesis Land for so long, you're overlooking the most obvious solution.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:37 PM on October 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Isn't this his website? There's a Contact Us page.
posted by jabes at 1:40 PM on October 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Does the online research archive have any institutional librarians or people who serve as the contact on copyright questions? If this isn't through your spouse's university, does their university have anyone in those roles?

I have accessed articles and dissertations before through archives (institutional and other) where in-copyright photographs are simply removed from the online file and a disclaimer added to the space where they were. Is this an option?

Good luck, and congratulations to your spouse!
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had exactly this problem with my thesis. The archive person suggested that I simply remove the offending figures, modify the caption to explain where they could be found, and add white space to preserve pagination. Which I did.
posted by caek at 1:59 PM on October 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Every University I've worked at, which covers three countries at this point, have someone in the library who's job it is to answer these kinds of questions. If your library webpage or general library email can't help, then try asking your research office or graduate office or who ever is in charge of academic research at your University. There should be *someone* at your University who deals with this stuff because it comes up in academic publishing all the time.

There's a non-zero chance you're covered by fair use if the photo has to be in there because you're talking about it directly. This will vary by location and the exact details of how it's used (and is exactly the sort of thing your library should be able to help with). And if you're not discussing that exact image directly then you can probably leave it out.
posted by shelleycat at 2:03 PM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Shelleycat's got it-- if your spouse wants to keep the photo in, try engaging your spouse's institution's Scholarly Communications Librarian or equivalent.
posted by benbenson at 2:33 PM on October 27, 2014

The Daily Mail credits Azam Husain, repped by Barcroft. I would contact Barcroft to find out how you can gain permission for academic use or what the license fee would be.

But good gravy if there really is a magical unicorn know as a Scholarly Communications Librarian, tally ho!
posted by DarlingBri at 3:04 PM on October 27, 2014

Ask your library or grad faculty for advice. They handle copyright issues all the time and are usually the best places to ask about specific examples.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:10 PM on October 27, 2014

DarlingBri, that's a different picture. Maybe more than one photographer shot the unusual piggyback.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 4:32 PM on October 27, 2014

Reuters can license the photo for educational use. You can also ask for a gratis license. Go to their website and make the request. It's not just for online use. Contact the rep.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:13 PM on October 27, 2014

I would ask yourself how many people are realistically going to access the dissertation from the online archive. Assuming the answer is <5 (which, realistically, it probably is!), just take the photo out and add a caption stating "This photograph could not be included in the online archive for copyright reasons. Please contact the author directly if you need access to it." If or when your spouse goes on to publish this material in book or article form, he'll have an actual company with copyright people to help him work through whatever permissions are needed.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:38 AM on October 28, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you so much, everyone. We've had tunnel vision due to a surfeit of thesis, and spouse'll be contacting the academic librarian. We're going to contact directly should that fail (thanks, jabes!) and, should those also not get us desired outcomes, just caption the damn thing as many have suggested.

This absolutely soothed us on the topic -- hugely grateful.
posted by monster truck weekend at 9:49 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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