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Art UK is committed to respecting intellectual property rights. We provide the tools to help collections share their images at the level they are comfortable with and notify website visitors about the permissions and copyright restrictions for each image.

Here we explain the ways in which these rights apply to images on Art UK, and how our Copyright and Licensing Team can support collections in managing intellectual property rights.


Collection image rights and copyright

There are two kinds of rights that may impact the images we show on Art UK: image rights (the digital image of the artwork), and artwork copyright.

Image rights: In most cases, art collections own the rights to their own images on Art UK – even those images that were taken by Art UK as part of the oil painting and sculpture digitisation projects. We indicate who manages the image rights on Art UK using the term 'photo credit'. Using this credit line for attribution clearly highlights the image owner to visitors.

Artwork copyright: Copyright applies to artworks where the creator is still alive, or died within the last 70 years. Collections usually do not hold the copyright to the artworks themselves, except in certain cases where documentation provides proof that the artwork copyright was transferred.

If the artist of an artwork is in copyright, a collection may need to seek permission to reproduce an artwork on their own website. Art UK is responsible for tracing rights-holder contact details and gaining copyright permission for reproduction on the Art UK website.

For further information about Art UK's approach to copyright and online image reproduction, please see our guidance pages.

An artwork page on Art UK showing image credits

An artwork page on Art UK showing image credits

Passing on rights holder information

When Art UK seek copyright clearance requests from rights holders, we also seek permission for the collection to reproduce images on their own non-commercial websites. We also ask if we can pass on rights-holder contact details to the collection. The Art UK Copyright and Licensing team can provide spreadsheets listing the copyright and clearance status of the artworks owned by each collection. Email to request this information.

High-resolution images of artworks

Art UK photographed the majority of the artworks on the website. High-resolution photographs of the oil paintings and sculptures were shared with every participating art collection.

If a collection requires a replacement set of images, there may be an administration charge of £10 plus VAT. For more information please contact 

Art UK collection agreements

All collections represented on Art UK have signed an agreement with Art UK (as the Public Catalogue Foundation). These agreements permit us to show the collections' data and images, as well as use these for publicity, pending consent from copyright holders of the underlying artworks, where relevant.

These agreements also outline how Art UK can make collections' images available for further reuse by attaching a Creative Commons licence or opting to release images with a CC0 or Public Domain Mark.

There are currently over 70,000 images available for sharing and re-use under a Public Domain Mark or Creative Common licence on the Art UK website.

Between 2015–2022, collections were given the option to review and sign updated agreements electronically through the Art UK Permissions Portal. We endeavoured to supply all collections with their own Permissions Portal account and login details. The Permissions Portal has now been de-commissioned while we develop a new data harvester mechanism but we can still supply you with your agreements and provide you with support.

If your collection requires a copy of its current agreement, or you would like to update permissions, please email