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Photographs: Use Permissions & Licensing

Subjects: How-To Guides
Tags: how-to, photos

What type of User am I?

Please use the information below to determine what type of user you are.  Regardless of your user type, it is important to note:

  • The Conditions of Use apply to all types of users
  • Most non-personal uses require a formal permissions process, regardless of whether or not use/licensing fees apply to the project  

If you are still not sure what category to select when ordering or submitting paperwork, please contact us at library.permissions@mhs.org for more information and assistance. 

User Types

For students, family historians, and other researchers wishing to use the selected items for their own use.  Personal uses DO NOT include any use that involves selling the image or making a profit.  
 
Most personal uses are non-public, like: 

  • research
  • display in a private home
  • use in an album or scrapbook
  • gift-giving

Rope skipping, American Rodeo held in connection with the Shrine Convention, 1934.

However, there are acceptable personal uses that are also public, including: 

  • Student projects at any level of education: This includes theses and dissertations that will be deposited in an institutional repository. 
  • Classroom use by educators: This does not include publication of textbooks or other curriculum products. 
  • Presentation at a conference or professional meeting: This use may include presentations done for a small gratuity, but use of MNHS images by professional speakers or trainers is considered a commercial use.  
  • Illustration on personal websites or use on personal (not group or organizational) social media pages: Use on business/organizational websites or business/group social media pages is NOT considered personal use. 
  • Use of MNHS image(s) as inspiration for a completely new artwork 
  • Use of MNHS image(s) by an artist in an original work of art, provided that the artist follows all the MNHS Conditions of Use and that it is "art for art's sake."  (Selling the piece of art may require a use fee.  Merchandising/selling reproductions of art that includes MNHS images is considered a Commercial use.)

Use of the selected items by a nonprofit or tax-exempt organization. The organization using the items must be registered as a nonprofit or tax-exempt organization under its own state or federal law.  

 

If it is requested, the organization must be able to provide documentation

 demonstrating their status.  
 
Red Cross booth collecting flood relief contribution, ca. 1930Any money made from the publication, display, broadcast, etc. must go into the accounts of the non-profit organization and not to any individual, corporation, or other organization.  
 
Common non-profit uses include:

  • use of an image in a non-profit publication (print or electronic book, newsletter, journal/magazine, etc.) 
  • public displays, exhibits, or presentations    
  • film or TV broadcast
  • merchandise items (calendars, postcards, etc.)
  • online use via organizational webpages and/or social media accounts

 
If a commercial user is working for a non-profit on a for-hire basis, the non-profit can request/order the use-permission free of charge.

 

Use of the selected items by a federal, state, tribal, county, or local government or government agency.   If it is requested, the organization must be able to provide documentation demonstrating their status.  
 
State Capitol, 1907 (Image FM6.13 r59)Any money made from the publication, display, broadcast, etc. must go into the accounts of the government entity and not to any individual, corporation, or other organization.  
 
Common governmental uses include:

  • use of an image in a publication (report, print or electronic book, newsletter, journal/magazine, etc.) 
  • public displays, exhibits, or presentations    
  • film or TV broadcast
  • merchandise items (calendars, postcards, etc.)
  • online use via organizational webpages and/or social media accounts

 
If a commercial user is working for a governmental entity on a for-hire basis, the governmental entity can request/order the use permission free of charge.  

 

Minneapolis Newspaper Carrier, ca. 1925. HC1.17 r7Minnesota-based media providers and publishers are welcome to use MNHS collection items in their content, regardless of the nonprofit or tax-exempt status of the media provider. 
 
This applies only to Minnesota-based organizations using MNHS images while providing local news or Minnesota-centered information to the general public through a newspaper, magazine, radio, television, website, book, film, or other medium.
 
Minnesota Media and Publishers may use MNHS images in the course of promoting their projects that provide local news or Minnesota centered information.

If planning other uses, the organization should select either a non-profit or commercial use, based on the organization's status.        

 

Use of the selected items in any public manner by any entity that is not governmental, a Minnesota media/publishing outlet, or a registered non-profit or tax-exempt organization.  

Common commercial uses include:Advertising sign of the Savage Company, Minneapolis, 1942.

  • illustration in a publication (print, electronic, or online book; newsletter; journal/magazine; etc.)  
  • film, TV, or online broadcast
  • merchandise items 
  • public display in an exhibit or as part of the decor in a public space like a lobby, office setting, etc.    
  • online use via traditional webpages, social media accounts, etc.
  • advertising

 

If a commercial user is working for a non-profit or governmental entity on a for-hire basis, the non-profit or governmental entity can request/order the use permission free of charge.  If the commercial entity places the request/order, they must pay the appropriate use fee(s).    

 

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Types of Users

Still not sure which category to select when completing an order/permissions paperwork?  

Contact library.permissions@mhs.org for more information. 

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