Reproduction – the Spectrum standard

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

You should 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, in deciding your policy you will most likely need to consider 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 should 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, but however you do it, your own procedure should meet the following minimum requirements:

Minimum requirement Why this is important
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.


Date created: 2017

Author: Collections Trust

Publisher: Collections Trust