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Image Use Protocol: When permission is required

Best practices for locating and using Japanese visual images for teaching, research, and publications

Sample Cases

Please click on sample cases to see detailed explanations and also to get permission request templates.

  1. Permission to use a magazine illustration as your book cover


  2. Permission to use a museum's digital image of a publication (in the public domain) in your scholarly publication


  3. Permission to use a copyrighted illustration on your institution's website


  4. Permission to use a photograph in a book to promote a museum exhibit


  5. Permission to use covers of manga books in promotion DVD for library holdings


  6. Permission to use snapshots of conference participants in conference proceedings


  7. Permission to use images in the possession of a small town government


  8. Permission to reproduce a political poster available on the Internet


  9. Permission to use manga frames in your book


See also the section of the Image Use and the Copyright Laws.

Right Holders

The right holders relevant to the use of images are usually in the four categories listed below. You might need to obtain permission from one or more right holders to use that image.

1. Copyright holders

Copyright holders include authors of paintings, prints, sculptures, illustrations, manga, designs and photographers. Copyright holders may also be publishers or people who commissioned specific works. You must obtain permission to use their work for your scholarly publications when the images are still copyrighted under the US or Canadian copyright laws. For fair use or fair dealing regulations concerning image use, see Image Use and the Copyright Laws section.

2. Owners of objects

Whether the photographs are copyrighted or out of copyright, you need the permission of the owner of the object in the photograph. The owners of the object (for example, building, paintings, sculpture, etc.) are usually institutions or organizations such as museums, fine arts museums or temples, while in some cases, they are individuals. Objects in institutional holdings can be in possession of individuals in which case you will need to ask permission from these individuals.

3. Image owners

If you would like to use existing photographs or prints, you need to seek permission from the image owners. For example, if you want to use a photograph of an artifact owned by a museum, you will need the permission of the artifact owner as well as of the museum which owns the rights to the photograph. This also applies to situations where photographs are owned by municipal governments in Japan. If you want to use photographs already published in a book or in other media, you will need the permission of the book publisher or of other media as well as the owner of the original photograph.

4. Subjects in photographs

If a person is in the photograph, it is necessary for you to obtain the permission of the photographed person, or the successor or assignee of such rights, to avoid an infringement of the right of likeness or privacy under the privacy laws and/or right of likeness.

More about using photographs:

When a photograph is in a published work, it is advisable to contact the publisher first because s/he may provide you permission directly. The publisher may also refer you to the right holders and provide you with contact information. In other cases, please consult the Useful Links section in this guide to research who is a right holder and submit your permission request using the appropriate template in the Permission Request Templates.

When you would like to use your own photographs for publications, it is advisable to seek permissions from the right holders at that time when you take them.

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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