Providing Online Access to Photographic Archive Collections: A Report on Copyright Issues

  • 28 October 2020

PHAROS – an international consortium of fourteen European and North American art-historical photographic archives – has published a ground-breaking new report exploring the cross-border copyright issues involved in creating an online open-access research platform.

The report is the written outcome of a two-day workshop held at the Paul Mellon Centre in March 2020. This unique event, involving not only representatives from all fourteen PHAROS institutional members, but also legal and intellectual property experts from the United States, the European Union, and from the United Kingdom, facilitated pioneering discussions about the complex issues involved in publishing online photographic archive materials. Key questions were addressed and a clear set of recommendations relevant to the PHAROS initiative and also to wider audiences established.

The workshop was partially funded through a grant by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the report is freely available to download below, and from the PHAROS website.


PHAROS is an international consortium of fourteen European and North American art-historical photo archives committed to creating a digital research platform allowing for comprehensive consolidated access to photo archive images and their associated scholarly documentation.

Established in 2013, PHAROS responds to the need for the rich visual and textual material held in art-historical photo archives, often unpublished and uniquely accessed through these repositories, to be made accessible for a new generation of scholars accustomed to online access to research materials. Consolidated access to tens of millions of images of works of art will be of immeasurable value to scholarship and teaching for a wide range of art-historical issues. These include provenance and attribution, conservation research, exhibition research, publication history, the history of photography, as well as the history of art history. Above all, PHAROS aims to provide an essential resource for those engaged with new research methodologies within the framework of digital humanities.