What are copyright fees?

On Demand copyright

Copyright fees are included in the cost of your order, but there are some occasions when you don't have to pay them

Published date:

Most of the content we supply is in copyright so British Library On Demand often charges a copyright fee in addition to the service charge for supplying the item. This is set by the publisher of the material and covers its licence and use.

You will be able to see the copyright fee for the item you want before you order online or through our API. Our systems process copyright data from publishers and match it with what we know about you as a customer, so you will always see the right price.

You do not need to pay a copyright fee if

  • You are ordering the item on loan
  • The copy is wanted for research for a non-commercial purpose or private study and you are making the request via an organisation registered with the British Library (note that this does not apply if you are based outside the UK or are registered as a commercial organisation)
  • The copy is required for parliamentary or judicial proceedings, a Royal Commission or statutory inquiry*
  • The copy is required to replace an item that has been lost or damaged, but this service is only available to a library, archive, gallery or museum in the UK*
  • The item is Open Access (see below)
If a copyright fee does not need to be paid on the copy you are ordering, we call it a Library Privilege copy. The person who wants to use the copy must complete a copyright declaration form in order to declare that they are not knowingly breaking copyright law.

If you are a student, public library member or you work in the public sector, you may be able to use the Library Privilege Service. Ask your university library, local public library or information centre at work about ordering material from us.

Open Access

Contemporary research articles are often published under what is known as Open Access, meaning they are freely available to anyone on the public internet.

When our systems identify a journal article as Open Access, British Library On Demand will supply it to you with no copyright fee.

We continue to work closely with publishers to improve the way we identify such material, but please note that some articles may be directly available, free of charge, from other sources. If you think the item you require may be subject to Open Access policies, please check that it is not available free of charge elsewhere, before you place your order.

If you think you have paid a copyright fee for an Open Access article supplied by us, please contact Customer Services, who may be able to refund your account.