Thursday 28 January 2016

Bookplate Society Complains

Bookplate Society Complains;
I copy below a Press release penned by the Chairman of The Bookplate Society as a complaint against The National Library of Scotland. In my humble opinion, use the headline Scottish Avarice was perhaps a little misguided when the complaint is not directed against the Scots in general but the National Library specifically however, the point being made is of heraldic interest:
Six scanned images are needed from the National Library of Scotland, without which The Bookplate Society is unable to publish a 3-page article planned for the next 72-page issue of The Bookplate Journal.

In addition to normal reprographic charges, the NLS is demanding licence fees of £60 ($85) per image. The NLS fees appear on its website at Such an outrageously high level of fees is unaffordable for a small not-for-profit society of 270 subscribers. The sum of £360 ($510) represents about 4% of the Society’s subscription income. In its journal and two-yearly book, the Society publishes over 250 images annually, so if all images were to be sourced from the NLS, the cost would be one-and-a-half times the Society’s total subscription income. Expressed in another way, the NLS has set a fee for the reproduction of an exlibris equal to roughly £2 ($3) per square centimetre of image or £13 ($18) per square inch. The required images cannot be sourced elsewhere because these are of 18th century items of which no other prints are known. This may in UK law be viewed as an unfair contract term and amounts to extortion.

The NLS introduced a new scale of charges last summer, claiming to reflect the principles established in the PSI Directive (the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (SI 2015 No. 1415) which implement European Directive 2013/37/EU). However, the NLS interpretation and scale of charges is totally out of line with other similar institutions and with the spirit of the legislation. In an email dated 27 January 2016, the NLS refuses to modify its charges either for low usage or for not-for-profit entities. The NLS is deaf to suggestions that it is breaching the trust of those who in the past made bequests of collections now in the care of the NLS.

The Bookplate Society is run by volunteers who, it seems, will now have to spend time escalating a formal complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner.
We have already introduced a request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 for the NLS to supply an explanation with complete and detailed costings of how it calculates its fee for the re-use of still images. This is for the reason that the NLS is working out its licence fee on a fully-costed basis instead of a marginal costing basis, and we believe that the difference between the two methods is huge. The NLS has until 19 February 2016 to reply.
This is not a minor one-off issue, but is of material importance for any publisher who now wishes to print images sourced from the NLS.

Readers of this notice are invited to send emails of complaint to Dr John Scally, National Librarian and Chief Executive ( and to James Boyle, a former Controller of BBC Radio 4, recently appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees at the National Library of Scotland (

Anthony Pincott
Hon Treasurer and Membership Secretary
The Bookplate Society [End Quote]

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