Permissions and Copyright When Buying a Historical Image | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Terms of Agreement for Use of Historical Images

Defining Permission, Copyright and Terms of Use

Please read the following before purchasing a historic image for personal or commercial/non-profit use.

Terms of Agreement for Personal Use of Images

Please read the following before purchasing an image for personal use (home display or a gift).

When you complete the purchase of a Wisconsin Historical Image for personal use (home display or a gift) you agree to these terms of use:

  1. You agree to accept all legal responsibility for questions of copyright, literary rights or invasion of privacy that may arise from copying or making use of the image(s).
  2. You agree not to sell, publish, share, reproduce, publicly display, broadcast or redistribute the image(s) in any format without first obtaining written permission from the Wisconsin Historical Society and paying a permission fee.
  3. You agree you will not copy the image(s) in any form or by any means, including making prints from digital files, nor will you allow others to do so.
  4. You acknowledge that during processing the aspect ratio of the image is maintained. This can result in the size of the actual image being slightly different from the size ordered. However, the size of the print will be as close as possible to the size ordered.
  5. You acknowledge that your purchased image(s) will be printed on semi-gloss paper (except for maps and documents, which will be printed on matte paper).
  6. You agree to pay all costs in advance of receiving the image.

Terms of Agreement for Commercial or Non-Profit Use of Images

Permission to use an image and securing copyright for the image are two separate issues. Please read the following before purchasing an image for commercial or non-profit use.

When you complete the purchase of a Wisconsin Historical Image for commercial or non-profit use (publication, web, presentations and/or public display) you agree to these terms of use:

  1. You acknowledge that permission is necessary for commercial or non-profit use of the historical images. Fees are charged per image, per format and include in-context promotion. These fees are separate from and in addition to image fees.
  2. You agree to pay the permission fees before using the image(s).
  3. You will provide the following credit line (replacing the zeroes with the Image ID#) when using images: Wisconsin Historical Society, WHS-00000.
  4. You will not significantly alter image(s). I agree to request permission from the Wisconsin Historical Society before altering any image beyond standard cropping and resizing. After receiving permission to crop an image, if an image is cropped, the credit line will note the alteration.
  5. You will not use or authorize others to use the images for any other purpose.
  6. For subsequent printings or editions of this project, you will arrange for additional permissions from the Wisconsin Historical Society.
  7. You understand the granting of permission to publish by the Wisconsin Historical Society does not absolve the end user from copyright liabilities. I will not hold the State of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Historical Society liable for any damages stemming from my use of this content. This includes costs and expenses based on the violation of rights of ownership, infringement of copyright, invasion of the rights of privacy or laws of libel resulting from use of materials furnished.


The Wisconsin Historical Society does not own the copyright to most images in its collections. It is your responsibility to determine whether your proposed use violates copyright, and if so, to obtain permission from the copyright owner. In some cases, we have written agreements with copyright holders. In others, copyright has lapsed. Often, it is not clear who owns copyright. You, the user, are legally liable for complying with the provisions of the law. For more information on copyright, consult the U.S. Copyright Office publications.


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Have Questions?

Contact Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager, by phone at 608-264-6475 or by email below:

You can also communicate by mail or fax:

Wisconsin Historical Society
Attn: Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager
816 State Street, Room 407
Madison, WI 53706-1482
Fax: 608-264-6472

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