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Guide to the Schomburg Center's Photographs and Prints Division: Rights and Reproductions

Copyright and Permissions: Introduction

The Schomburg Center does not own copyright to the majority of items in our collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine if the works they wish to publish or disseminate are under copyright, and to obtain permission from the rights holders to reproduce when necessary.

The below guidelines from the NYPL Permissions Office may be consulted for further information. Please contact the Permissions Office at with inquiries relating to specific items.

Copyright and Permissions FAQ

How do I request a digital copy of a photograph in your collections?

Many photographs in the Schomburg's collections have been digitized, and can be found on the Photographs and Prints Division's Digital Collections page. The images on Digital Collections may only be used for personal, educational, or research purposes. They may not be used for commercial purposes. Please refer to the NYPL Permissions Office guidelines for instructions on obtaining a high-resolution digital copy of a Digital Collections item for editorial or commercial use.

Ordering a digitization of a photograph that has not previously been digitized requires written clearance of the copyright holder. In cases where the copyright holder cannot be located, patrons must complete to NYPL’s satisfaction a “best efforts” search to locate the rights holder before digitization can proceed.

Do you know who owns copyright for the photographs in your collections?

Some images in our collections have a clear copyright holder, while others do not. For certain materials in the Photographs and Prints Division, staff have contact information on file for copyright holders, and can provide this information on request. However, staff cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.  

Can you grant me copyright clearance to publish photographs from the Schomburg Center’s collections?

The Schomburg owns physical copies of the photographs in our collections, but in the majority of cases does not own copyright and thus may not grant or deny permission to reproduce collection items.