Intellectual Property Rights Policy

1. Introduction

1.1 The National Portrait Gallery owns, generates and makes use of a range of assets protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislation. Diligent conduct in respect of these rights, as well as the protection, active use and careful development of the revenue-generating potential of the Gallery's intellectual property (IP), are essential to the Gallery's functioning, good reputation, authority, sustainability and the achievement of its core objectives.

2. Policy Scope

2.1 The aim of this policy is to ensure all Gallery staff are aware of their responsibilities and obligations in relation to IPR, including rights owned by the Gallery as well as those owned by others, in order to minimise risk of infringement.

2.2 The policy also aims to improve the understanding of the asset value of the Gallery's IP and also to inform members of the public how the Gallery complies with IPR legislation.

3. Definitions

3.1 Intellectual Property Rights are a group of legal rights relating to ‘intangible' property. The IPRs most immediately relevant to the Gallery are as follows:

3.2 Copyright is the exclusive legal right to control reproduction of certain specified categories of creative work for a given period of time (currently in the UK for the creator's lifetime plus 70 years after the end of the calendar year they die).

3.3 Moral rights relate to the individual creator's honour or reputation and the principal ones are concerned with the right to be identified as a work's creator; the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work; and the right to object to false attribution.

3.4 A trade mark is a word, name, symbol or device used to identify and distinguish the source of goods or services.

3.5 Performers' rights relate to both live and recorded performances and provide certain rights to both amateur and professional performers.

3.6 Publication right is a right equivalent to copyright, acquired by the first person to publish a previously unpublished literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or film after copyright has expired. The duration of publication right is 25 years from the end of the year in which the work is first published.

3.7 Database right arises from the investment involved in obtaining, verifying and presenting the contents of a database. Duration is 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which the making of the database was completed.

4. Legal Basis

4.1 The National Portrait Gallery primarily refers to UK jurisdiction on IPR legislation.

4.2 This policy also complies with the following legislation and regulations:

  • UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended), effective from 01 August 1989;
  • Earlier Copyright Acts, such as those of 1911 and 1956, may still be relevant in certain situations;
  • Case law in this field is vast; many cases have established precedent in accordance with usual common law principles;
  • The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Licensing of Orphan Works) Regulations 2014;
  • The Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 1996;
  • Trade Marks Act 1994;
  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (as amended on September 28, 1979);
  • Universal Copyright Convention as revised on 24 July 1971;
  • World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT) (1996);
  • Public Records Acts of 1958 and 1967.

4.3 Other UK statutes such as the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (PSI) also have a significant bearing, particularly in the areas of confidentiality, privacy and re-use of the Gallery’s IP.

5. Statement of Principles

5.1 The National Portrait Gallery:

  • is committed to complying with all relevant IPR legislation;
  • exceeds its legal duties in the interests of good relationships and reputation;
  • is committed to driving and promoting best practice in IPR administration within and beyond the Gallery;
  • aims to facilitate, appropriately, the use of its own and others' IP assets;
  • aims to acquire IP and the relevant licences in respect of its activities and the objects in its possession;
  • is committed to delivering access to its IP assets, in respect of commercial and non-commercial activities;
  • is committed to protecting, enhancing and realising the commercial value of its IP, in support of its Public Task;
  • aims to provide the very highest quality IP content, including the Gallery's published research, definitive photography of items in its collection and authoritative captioning;
  • aims to empower its staff skillfully to administer their responsibilities in respect of IPR through the provision of training, resources, consultancy and supervision.

6. Responsibilities

6.1 The Board of Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery is the legal entity which owns the Gallery's IP and the body ultimately required to ensure compliance with the Act and other legislation.

6.2 The Director of Commercial is responsible for recommending policy to the Board of Trustees, for implementing policy, for setting and supervising procedures, and for setting fees in relation to the licensing out of Gallery content.

6.3 The Intellectual Property Officer, under the guidance of the Rights & Images Manager and the Director of Commercial, is responsible for administering and communicating policy and procedures.

6.4 Individual members of staff are responsible for ensuring they act within the scope of the law, and seek further advice firstly from the Intellectual Property Officer where necessary.

6.5 Responsibility for clearing rights rests with each individual project manager and should be done in consultation with the Intellectual Property Officer or Rights & Images Manager.

7. Procedures

7.1 This policy document is available to all staff, on the Gallery's internal network, and to the general public, via the Gallery's website.

7.2 IPR provisions are written into the Gallery's contracts with staff and freelancers, and into the Gallery's procedures for the acquisition and commissioning of works for the collections.

7.3 The Intellectual Property Officer provides all staff with a basic introduction to IPR principles, focusing on copyright. Subsequent job-specific inductions to individuals and groups are provided, and enhanced with further training as necessary.

7.4 A number of resources are provided for the consultation of Gallery staff, including a database of copyright in works in the Gallery's Collections maintained regularly by the Intellectual Property Officer. These resources, which include a number of authoritative websites and books, are added to and / or amended from time to time.

7.5 Strategic and operational advice on IPR and licensing is readily available from the Intellectual Property Officer, and the Rights and Images Manager.

7.6 The Gallery's practice in commercial and educational image licensing, and in policing its copyright, is regularly reviewed and kept in line with industry best practice. The Gallery advises and consults with organisations such as the National Museum Directors' Council and the British Association of Picture Libraries & Agencies, among others.

7.7 The Communications and Development Departments, and the Commercial teams, control and promote the use of the Gallery's brand within and beyond the Gallery, developing the Gallery's reputation and the value of the brand, in addition to realising this value through a variety of revenue streams, including sponsorship and licensing.

7.8 The Publications and Retail Departments create IP content, in support of the Gallery's public task in the work they commission and contract from leading writers, historians, designers, artists, photographers and other contributors for books and paper product. The Departments also add value to the Gallery's brand by improving its reputation through the quality, authority and appeal of its work, and through international distribution. Procedures for the clearance and contracting of others' rights model the highest standards of practice. In addition, the Publishing, Retail and Rights & Images Departments exploit the value of the IP they generate and manage, raising income through trading in product and licensing content, in support of the Gallery.

7.9 All records created by Gallery staff in the course of their official role as employees of the Gallery, including writing, photographs, videos, slides and electronic data, are Public Records according to the Public Records Acts of 1958 and 1967. As such they belong to the Gallery and the Gallery owns copyright. In instances where the boundaries of what constitutes an individual's official role may be slightly unclear, the onus is upon employees to agree with their line manager any rights they wish to reserve, in order to avoid confusion of ownership at a later date. The People and Culture Department and the Intellectual Property Officer will advise further, if appropriate.

7.10 The Gallery operates a notice and takedown procedure for all materials available on its website. More information about this procedure is available here.

8. Breach of this Policy

8.1 Breach of copyright and other IPR laws may render both the Board of Trustees and individuals liable to both civil and criminal proceedings. The Gallery will regard willful or reckless breach of this IPR policy as a disciplinary offence and such breaches will be subject to the Gallery's disciplinary procedures.

9. Policy Review

9.1 This Policy will be monitored as part of the Gallery’s annual internal review and reviewed every three years or as required by legislature changes.

Policy author: Director of Commercial, Rights and Images Manager, and Intellectual Property Officer

Date of last review: February 2024

Date of next review: February 2027 

Approved by the Board of Trustees