Permissions and Copyright – Frequently Asked Questions


These guidelines are intended as a general introduction to some relevant aspects of copyright, and are not an authoritative interpretation of the law. Users of National Library of Ireland collections are reminded that it is their responsibility to comply with copyright law when using the Library.

What is a copyright exemption?

The Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 also illustrates the circumstances that are exempt from copyright restrictions placed on a work. These circumstances are called ‘Fair Dealing’ and include the copying of a work for the purpose of research and private study, for the purpose of criticism or review, and for reporting current events.

What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal term which describes the property rights given to authors or creators of certain categories of work. Copyright exists in:

  • original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works
  • sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes
  • the typographical arrangement of published works
  • original databases

The owner of the copyright is in most cases the author or creator. Sometimes an author may transfer his/her copyright to a publisher. The copyright holder has the right to control use of the work, including the making of copies, or performing or adapting the work.

The duration of copyright varies, depending on the nature of the item. Please see the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000., which is the primary legislation governing copyright in Ireland, for information on the duration of copyright in different types of work.

Is there a limit on the amount I can copy?

The amount of a work (apart from journal articles) which may be copied under the Fair Dealing provisions is not specified in the 2000 Act. However a number of conditions apply: only a ‘reasonable proportion’ of a work can be copied; and the same copy cannot be supplied to more than three people at the same time and for the same purpose. In the case of periodicals, as many articles from a volume can be copied as there are issues in the volume, or 10% of the volume, whichever is greater.

What is permission, and how is it different from copyright?

The NLI provides copies of images and other material in its collections on the understanding that no copy will be reproduced without the NLI’s written permission. For the right to reproduce a copy, a reproduction fee will usually be charged, and acknowledgement must be made to the NLI in the publication. Many items in our collections are still in copyright so written permission from the copyright holder must also be obtained by the person seeking to reproduce the item.content here...

How will I find out who the copyright holder is?

Contact details for the copyright holders of a number of Irish writers and artists is available on the WATCH Database, run by the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas, and the University of Reading Library.

What is the administration fee for?

Where permission to reproduce an item is sought, but the item is not correctly identified on the Permission Request Form, an additional charge of €25 per image will apply. This charge covers the staff time necessary to identify the correct reference number of the item.

How will I find out which images you have in your collections?

The National Library has digitised over 35,000 images from its photographic collections, including topographical views of locations around Ireland, studio portraits, and images of political events. You can find these on our  Main Catalogue. You can also use the Main Catalogue, the Sources Database and the Newspaper Database to locate other items in our collections, including books, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts, maps, prints, drawings and photographs.

Can I publish a quotation from a book or manuscript without getting permission?

What if the original item is still in copyright?

The Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 states that copyright in a work which has been lawfully made available to the public, is not infringed by use of quotations or extracts from the work, where they are accompanied by an acknowledgement. In the case of manuscripts and in particular manuscripts which are still in copyright and/or unpublished, it is advisable to seek permission from the copyright holder in advance of publication.

Can someone help me with my research?

National Library staff can help you locate items in our catalogues in person in the Reading Rooms, by email: and by telephone: +353 1 6030 213. Unfortunately we cannot research images for you. A list of private researchers who can undertake this work on a fee-paying basis, is available here.

Do I need to obtain permission to put an image from the NLI website on my non-commercial website?

Yes, you will need to order a digital copy of the image by emailing:, and then completing the Permission Request Form. We do not charge a reproduction fee for non-commercial websites.

What about National Library images on Flickr and Flickr Commons?

The NLI joined Flickr in February 2010 and Flickr Commons in June 2011 to encourage the use and description of our collections. Images in Flickr Commons have no known copyright restrictions, but you will still need to complete the Library’s Permissions Request Form if you wish to reproduce an image.

What acknowledgement should I use?

Acknowledgements of NLI material should use the following form of words: ‘Reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.’

Who should I contact to get a digital copy of an item in the NLI collection?

Contact Copying Services with the details of the item by emailing:, or tel: +353 1 6030 214.

If I use my own digital camera, do I need permission to use the photograph in a publication?

Yes, you will need to contact the NLI for permission. When you obtained your reader’s ticket you agreed that any copies of Library material made by or supplied to you, would be for the purpose of research and private study only. In the case of manuscripts, you will need to sign an additional form each time you use the self-service copying facilities.

Who can I contact for more information?

For Printed & Visual material contact Glenn Dunne at or tel: +353 1 6030 331.

For Manuscript material contact James Harte at or tel: +353 1 6030291

The Irish Times, 9 November 1990
The Irish Times, 9 November 1990
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