The British Museum wishes to encourage the dissemination and use of information about our collection and expertise that we publish on our website.
For this purpose, we increasingly intend to release content on our website under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence.
See re-use of images for specific information around using images from the British Museum website.
Copyright and permissions
What does the Creative Commons licence apply to?
The Creative Commons licence does not apply to everything on our website. Content that is published under the Creative Commons licence will be marked with the following logo:
Why is everything on the website not published under a Creative Commons licence?
All the content on our website is protected by internationally recognised laws of copyright and intellectual property. The British Museum can decide under what terms to release the content for which we own the copyright.
However, not all the content on our website is owned exclusively by the British Museum. Some of it may have third-party intellectual property or image rights that the Museum doesn't own. While we have made all reasonable efforts to obtain permission from the owners of such content to post it on our website, we cannot allow any additional uses ourselves.
Additionally, there may be content we can't share under a Creative Commons licence due to cultural sensitivities, or if doing so would be against any existing Museum policies (such as our human remains policy).
How can I use the content published under a Creative Commons licence?
The British Museum publishes some of the content on our website under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence.
This licence allows you to:
BY (Attribution): Copy, distribute, display and perform our copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if you give us credit in the way we request:
© The Trustees of the British Museum.
NC (NonCommercial): Copy, distribute, display, and perform our work – and derivative works based upon it – but for non-commercial purposes only.
SA (ShareAlike): Distribute derivative works only under a licence identical to the licence that governs our work.
Creative Commons defines commercial use as 'reproducing a work in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or monetary compensation'.
For the avoidance of doubt, the British Museum considers the following to be commercial activities (this list is not exhaustive):
- Anything that is in itself charged for, including textbooks and academic books or journals.
- An individual's website or blog that is used as a platform to promote or conduct commercial activities (for example, to sell products created by or services provided by such an individual).
- A commercial organisation's website or blog, including trading arms of charities.
- Freely distributed leaflets or merchandise that promote goods or services.
- Corporate stationery or any business communications such as annual reviews.
- Free-entry events, presentations or lectures promoting a product or a service.
- Displays in public places offering or promoting a product or service, such as use in a shop, restaurant, hotel, public bar or property showroom.
The British Museum considers the following to be non-commercial activities (this list is not exhaustive):
- Use in free-entry, educational lectures (or in activities promoting free-entry lectures).
- Promotion of any non-commercial activity, such as a poster advertising a bursary.
- One-off classroom use.
- Reproduction within a thesis document submitted by a student at an educational establishment (an electronic version of the thesis may be stored online by the educational establishment as long as it is made available at no cost to the end user).
- Use in websites as long as they are informational, academic or research-oriented and not linked to any commercial activity.
- Display within a free-entry public space (including museums and galleries), as long as the use is not promoting a product or a service.
- Educational and classroom use within an educational establishment or in the course of formal instruction.
How can I use the content that is not published under a Creative Commons licence?
Please note: the British Museum can't guarantee that your use of any content found on our website will not infringe any third-party copyright or other intellectual property rights. It is your responsibility to judge whether any of the content may need additional clearances for your intended use and to obtain them.
Re-use of images
Unless stated otherwise, the copyright for the majority of images on the British Museum website belongs to the Trustees of the British Museum. However, please note that the copyright for certain images is held by third-parties.
To re-use any of the website images, the type of licence you may need depends on your intended use. Determine whether it is for non-commercial or commercial use, by referring to the lists of activities above.
Find out where and how to source and download images, plus further licensing and copyright information, on our Images and photography page.