Ethical terms of use

Faith and religions

Learn about our framework for including digitised collections in online projects, which considers both legal and ethical issues.

The Library respects the intellectual property rights, including moral rights, of rights holders and makes all reasonable effort to contact and consult rights owners, including, where appropriate, communities directly, or via local community organisations.

Given the importance of the historical record, and the fact that that some of our digitised collections include materials that are sensitive to particular communities and groups, we ask that any use of the digitised collections is undertaken with the appropriate care. Irrespective of its copyright status, items and/or collections should not be altered or used in ways that might be derogatory to the originating individuals or communities.

The digitised items may still be in copyright or in the public domain. However, we recognise that broader rights and interests in intangible cultural heritage may, under national, religious, customary, traditional and other laws and/or practices, reside with the traditional custodians of such materials. In such cases, the prior informed consent of the British Library and/or other contributing third parties, as well as the traditional custodians may be required for the republication and commercial use of part or whole of these materials.

We ask that anyone reusing digitised collection items apply the following principles:

  • Please credit the creator, and/or originating community.
  • Please respect the creators’ works.
  • Please ensure you consider any traditional cultural expressions and ethical concerns in using the material, and make sure that any information relating to the creator is clear and accurate.
  • Please preserve all notices attached to the works – this will notify other users of any copyright or other restrictions and encourage the appropriate use of the resource.

We always seek to take account of cultural sensitivities and any religious or other restrictions in the materials we possess and/or own. We take considerable care not to distort or alter this underlying material in any derogatory way. In the event, however, that any representative feels aggrieved by the digitisation and making available of these materials, please contact us in order to resolve the matter amicably through mutual discussion.

Please note that these terms of use are based on goodwill, rather than a legal contract.