This document is from the Bishop Museum Archives, Ms MC Liliuokalani Box 3.34, Marriage Certificate of John Dominis and Liliuokalani, 16 September 1862. Click on the image to enlarge.
When I was a child, being related to Queen Lili'uokalani was a family myth. My very first blog post last year was the story of how I proved the myth of "Auntie Lydia" to be the last Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii. This past summer I took a research trip to Hawaii, which was fun not only because of the wonderful archives and museums, but for the chance to meet many new cousins. I've posted some of the letters I found in the Hawaii State Archives earlier this fall. The Bishop Museum was different from the Archives, since it is a private institution with strict rules governing the distribution of images from its archive.
For the first time on my blog, or ever in my research, I had to write for formal permission to use an image. Usually attributing a source for an image is fine, or just obtaining permission via an email or a letter is enough, but in this case it proved to be a lengthy process. I started by sending an email to the Bishop Museum library, which was answered right away by Leah Caldeira of the archives. In her return email she stated "Usually we would charge a usage fee for anything going on the web. However, since this is family genealogical site - we will grant permissions without requiring payment provided that you put up a low resolution image (72 dpi) and cite Bishop Museum MS MC Liliuokalani Box 3.34 as your source. In addition, we would like you to complete the attached order form. We'll use this form as a record of your request and the first part of a contractual agreement for image use. We will provide you with a signed permissions statement granting you use of the image on your website as soon as we receive your form..."
I immediately began to fill out the proper form, and of course I had questions, so the email went back and forth a few times between New Hampshire and Hawaii. I mailed the form to the Bishop Museum in the first week of December. I recieved an email stating that the form was incomplete (my own fault) and so we went back and forth, and I had to mail a check for $10. Several weeks later, the day before Christmas Eve, I recieved the final email with permission to go ahead with the request, and the image was attached.
Of course, this lengthy process not only protected their rights to the image, but it allowed them to produce the image itself, scanned at the proper resolution and also protected the quality of the image associated with the Bishop Museum. Throughout the whole process, I understood that they were being very generous in allowing me to use the image without payment. The $10 transaction was only the fee for the scan. Usage fees are usually applied, which can cost much more, and involve hiring legal counsel. According to the form I filled out "Manipulation of the image is subject to restrictions. Advance written permission is required to crop or use a detail from an image" as well as strict instructions on how to cite the source of the image.
Hopefully, you might consider this whole process very carefully when asking permission to use images. Private institutions might also require you to sign releases and pay usage fees for your own genealogical purposes, too. When I saw the process and fee, I was tempted to forfeit the whole idea of posting the image on my blog, but then I saw the value in learning about the process. I never know when I might need to go through this again!
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo