Monday, 22 August 2011

RCAHMS explains Lost Edinburgh position

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland ( has released a statement about the use of its photos on Facebook, specifically with regard to the Lost Edinburgh page which has since been taken down from the site:

Our archive holds over 18 million items relating to both Scotland and other locations throughout the world - these range from general, historical and aerial photography, to drawings, maps, plans and manuscripts. All of this material is made accessible to the public at, at, and in our public search room in Edinburgh.

The imagery we hold comes from a wide variety of sources - from collections of historical photography that have been donated to us to hold in trust for the nation, to photography of Scotland's landscapes, archaeology and architecture taken every day by our own expert staff. We endeavour to make this material as widely available as possible, through everything from our websites and search room, to exhibitions and books.

In the case of our imagery, we have a legal duty to enforce and protect copyright law. The millions of items in our archive that are (c)RCAHMS are available to anyone to use, subject to a licence and potentially a fee. In the case of the 'Lost Edinburgh' Facebook page, the overriding issue is that Facebook's own terms and conditions for the posting of images prevent us from posting (c)RCAHMS images. We couldn't give the creators of the 'Lost Edinburgh' page the permission to post images, and we cannot post them ourselves - to do so would mean granting Facebook rights in our images, which would be in breach of our duty to protect the copyright of these images for all those who have deposited them with our National Collection. All other archives, museums and galleries that hold imagery are in the same position when it comes to sharing material on Facebook.

We have, however, recently developed our own database Canmore to allow the public to share their images and comments with our National Collection. To date, over 14,000 public images have been added to our online database, and can be viewed alongside our own images, and expert information on buildings and monuments. As well as being held within our database, the images can also all be viewed on Flickr at . We are continually looking at ways to update our web interface - and how we can collaborate with external sites like Flickr - to make it easier for the public to get involved with talking about and sharing imagery on Scotland's fascinating built environment.

We are also taking part again in Edinburgh's Doors Open Day on 24 September 2011 (more information on this coming soon). If you would like to find out more about what we hold, what we do, and why we do it, then please come along to our Edinburgh premises on the day and see for yourselves.

For more detailed information on copyright and licensing of our imagery go to:
And to see Facebook's terms and conditions, go to:

NB: There is a 'What happened to the Lost Edinburgh page' Facebook page at

(With thanks to @rcahms and @strathmartine on Twitter)


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