Reproduction (Spectrum 5.0 consultation draft)

By accessing this resource, you agree to the Spectrum licence.


Use this procedure when creating or commissioning any reproduction of an object. The procedure helps you manage the results by linking information about reproductions and the original items they depict. New reproductions are likely to be digital, such photographs, scans (including 3D) and transfers of audiovisual tapes. You can also use this procedure for photographic prints, negatives and transparencies, as well as 3D casts and models.

There are many different reasons why you might need to reproduce objects. These include: making copies of physically vulnerable items for conservation reasons; taking photographs to record the condition of items or for identification purposes in case of damage or loss; to help researchers; or for a wide range of public-facing activities. The intended uses will influence the quality of reproduction that is appropriate. Often you will want several versions derived from the same original: eg, very large, high-resolution master images, and working copies edited for website use.

This procedure is not intended to cover the use of reproductions, such as the publication of images. For this, see the Use of collections procedure and also Rights management.

This procedure is also not intended for born-digital items such as original artworks or oral history interviews that were created in digitised form. These should be managed as you would any other (physical) item in your collections.

The Spectrum standard

You must have a policy on reproducing items in your care. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, you should include answers to these questions:

  • What reproductions should normally be made during other procedures?
  • What standards should be followed for different kinds of intended use? (eg file type and resolution)
  • What is your format for naming or numbering reproductions, including digital files and working versions of master copies?
  • Where do you store reproductions, including digital files?
  • How do you make regular back-ups of digital reproductions?
  • How will you ensure that everyone who might make reproductions of your objects is aware of, and complies with, your rights management policy?

You must also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when making reproductions of items. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, and is available as a workflow diagram or as a text file you can edit. However you do it, your own procedure must meet the following minimum requirements:

Minimum requirement Why this is important See (cross-references to be added in final version)
All new reproductions are made in line with your rights management policy. You do not expose your museum to risk beyond the level accepted in your policy.
Every reproduction has a unique Reproduction number, including working versions of master copies. You can uniquely identify each reproduction and link it to relevant information.

You do not accidentally overwrite a master copy with an edited version.

Every reproduction has some kind of catalogue record that includes its Reproduction number and its storage location. You can quickly find any reproduction when you need it.

You do not build up folders of undocumented images.

Records of reproductions and original items are linked using their Reproduction number and Object number respectively. You can easily see from an object record what reproductions exist.

You can easily get information (eg for a caption) about the objects that feature in a reproduction.

Any intellectual property rights associated with reproductions (as opposed to the original items) are clearly referenced in reproduction records. You are clear about terms agreed with freelance photographers.

You do not accidentally license an image to someone that is not your copyright.


Please use this form to give us your feedback. Required fields are marked *


  1. Can this procedure also be used to deal with reproductions of born digital ‘objects’ or should it?

  2. – Is there a clear definition of a reproduction? Is an identical copy of a file a new reproduction? Or can a reproduction record have more than one storage location?
    – It would be good to always document the status of a reproduction (master, preview..), to avoid that a low quality reproduction is delivered when a master is required.
    – “This procedure is also not intended for born-digital items”: but does it apply to reproductions of born digital items?
    – How do these requirements relate to SPECTRUM DAM ?

Print-friendly PDF

Date created: 2017

Author: Collections Trust

Publisher: Collections Trust