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We have a local business that would like to sell mugs, crocks, etc. with photographs from our collection and we own the copyright. We have never before dealt with a business and have no idea of what we should charge. Any help that you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,

Wilma Wolner, Director

Watonwan County Historical Society

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3 Responses to Use Fees for Merchandise

  1. Mike Worcester says:

    We have only ever done postcards for re-sale but there are a couple of items to be mindful of. First, make sure you have something on paper. Even if it is a local business, having a written use agreement will prevent possible future headaches. Second, try to see if there is a way in the design setup to put a credit line for your photos. That way every time somebody looks at the item and its photo, they will see your name. Third, see if getting a portion of the sales proceeds is a possibility. While some might argue for a flat fee, a % is more fair to you as an institution (kinda like how recording companies get $$ every time one of their songs is played on a jukebox).

    There are for sure other facets I have omitted, but that is what comes to mind right away.

    Good luck!


  2. Daniel Hoisington says:

    I will echo Mr. Worcester and recommend a written agreement and a line credit on each item–great promotion. On the other hand, I prefer a flat fee. That way, there is no future misunderstanding between the museum and the vendor, unless someone wants to check their books every once in awhile. Pricing: look at MHS website for a sample use fee sheet. It is a fair and reasonable structure. Good luck!


  3. Mary Warner says:

    We, too, charge a commercial use fee for photographs following the price guidelines of MHS. On top of the commercial use fee, we also have a reproduction fee. If we have to scan an image at 300 dpi, we charge $12 per photo. We put images on our own CDs, charging $3 per CD. There have been people who will offer to bring in their own CDs, but we don’t allow this because we can’t trust that there won’t be viruses. For every photo reproduction and use outside of a regular photo copy, we have patrons fill out a Photo Use Form. We keep the signed original and give the patron a copy, along with our Photo Use policies, which are a slight modification of MHS’s policies. Here’s the link for our policies: http://www.morrisoncountyhistory.org/photouseform.pdf

    The whole process may feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. We do not charge a use fee for personal use or news items, although we do charge the reproduction fee for personal use.


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