As part of my work I am responsible for copyright research within Kyffin Williams’s personal collection, that is the works of other artists which he accumulated during his lifetime. The purpose of copyright is to protect the ownership of such creative works. Since the original artists are the copyright holders, we cannot show the images without their permission. If the artist has died within the last 70 years I have to contact the family or administrator of the estate.
There are a number of ways of finding this information, but it can be difficult, so I have to don my detective hat! Firstly, I look through our internal copyright database. Other members of staff have previously been searching for copyrights, and have kept it updated. I therefore find some of the artists here.
Secondly, I take a look at two websites, WATCH (Writers Artists and Their Copyright Holders) and DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society). These websites either give information about the copyright holder or advise as to who can help.
Thirdly, I have a look online and search through books. The majority of living artists run their own websites, and I can therefore contact them directly through this – this is the easiest option!
When I find the holder, I write to them asking for permission to use the images and give them an opportunity to supply additional information, for example a title or date which was previously unknown. I then wait for a reply! If I haven’t been able to find the copyright holder the project team must assess the risk of displaying the items on our website.
So far, we have had permission to use 131 images. Here are two examples.