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Digital camera policy

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1. Overview of the AIATSIS Collection

The AIATSIS Collection is one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of materials related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history.

The Collection is stored under archival conditions in which the temperature and humidity are carefully controlled in order to promote the longevity of the material.

Some material in the Collection is subject to restrictions beyond those imposed by the Copyright Act 1968.  For instance, some personal papers in the Manuscript Collection, and some culturally sensitive material, may be restricted.  Access to these items may be delayed and dependent upon obtaining written permission from the appropriate person or organisation.  The reference librarian can provide further advice on restricted materials.

Copyright status of Library material

The Library’s manuscript material is deposited with the Library both for the preservation of the work and for the benefit of future researchers.  On the whole, AIATSIS does not own its manuscript material and cannot legally grant access or copyright permission on behalf of the depositor unless authorised to do so.

About 14 per cent of the Library’s collection is made up of unpublished works, mostly in the manuscript collection.  It is important to note that unpublished works remain in copyright to the author or their descendants in perpetuity. 

2. What materials can be photographed?

You may photograph any published material or manuscripts issued to you in the reading room unless it is likely to result in damage to the material, or in the case of manuscripts, is against the access conditions specified by the depositor.  If you are at all in doubt, please seek the assistance of the reference librarian. 

You may not photograph artworks and displays or other people in the reading room or in the other public areas of the Institute without the permission of the people involved and Institute staff.

You may only photograph works on the desks available for public researchers in the reading room – please do not arrange items on the floor, around the computer terminals, on librarians’ trolleys or remove from the reading room to take photographs.

Do not attempt to flatten or dismantle material/collections in order to photograph it.  Items which are difficult to photograph and cannot be photocopied will need to be referred to our Digitisation team and an order placed.  The charge for this service is 50c per page.

Unfortunately, Library staff are not available to take photographs for you or to assist in the arrangement and propping up of items for photography.

3. What is the procedure for arranging to use my camera?

If you wish to photograph material, please check first with the reference librarian.  You will be asked to read and accept the terms and conditions set out in this information guide.

4. What types of equipment may be brought in?

Digital cameras and mobile phone cameras may be brought into the Reading Room for the purposes of copying reading materials. Flatbed portable scanners and hand-held scanners (including digital pens) may be used subject to the the restrictions below.

The use of moving image cameras and film crews must be negotiated with the Director of Collections prior to visiting the Reading Room.  Please see our contact details at the end of this document.

5. Restrictions

You may not:

  • Alter or manipulate the image in any way, in keeping with the Moral Rights of the author to maintain the integrity of their work (further information is available from the Australian Copyright Council).
  • Use a tripod or photographic flash.
  • Damage records or treat records in a way that may cause damage.
  • Open or unclip any sealed records or remove any binding/tying devices.
  • Photograph material for any purpose other than private research or study.
  • Photograph more than the stipulated ‘reasonable portion’ outlined on the Copyright Regulations 1969 notices available on all reading room desks.
  • Further reproduce, communicate (i.e. email to others) or publish any material without the permission of the copyright holder/s and Indigenous cultural owners where relevant.
  • Use any device that comes into contact with the material or attach any personal signs or notes to the image.

6. Copyright and Indigenous Communal Moral Rights

Copyright notices are displayed on all desks in the reading room and in the photocopying room for your information.  It is your responsibility to ensure you are not infringing copyright when taking photocopies and photographs.  Further information about the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 for research and study can be found at the Australian Copyright Council website by searching for the Fair Dealing: what can I use without permission fact sheet.

The AIATSIS Collections have adopted the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols for Libraries, Archives and Information Services, in particular:

2.3:  Develop ways, including the recognition of moral rights, to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and intellectual property.

Under the AIATSIS Act 1989, there is a general duty on AIATSIS not to disclose any material held in its collections, if that disclosure would be inconsistent with the views or sensitivities of relevant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons. We will respect any known secret/sacred restrictions and approach possibly sensitive material with due care. 


Last updated: 07 April 2021