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I have read about reprinting other authors tables and figures, but I couldn't find anything on reprinting laboratory instrument pictures from their manufacturer websites. Can I use instrument photos that I took from manufacturer website without permission?

  • Read about "fair use" as it applies in your jurisdiction. Is your use clearly 'fair use'? Great, then you can use. Is your use not clearly 'fair use'? Ask permission. It will be very important what your meaning of 'reprinting' is. – Bryan Krause Mar 13 '19 at 17:14
  • I will actually use it in a book chapter showing that they have one of the available instruments in the area. That sounds even like advertising for them, this is like beyond fair use :) My advisor insists I need to get permission even for those pictures from manufacturer website. – Lily Mar 13 '19 at 17:21
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    "Fair use" is a legal term, not a casual one. Listen to your advisor please. If you are publishing a book, and that book is to be sold, this is a commercial use and almost never considered 'fair use'. – Bryan Krause Mar 13 '19 at 17:23
  • Oh, I didn't take it as a legal term at first, thanks for clarifying! – Lily Mar 13 '19 at 17:25
  • Also realize you'll need to follow the rules for the most restrictive place you might want to sell the book. So even if your country has a relaxed attitude to copyright, if you want to sell your book in the US or Germany or wherever, you'll need to follow their rules. So the safest thing is to be sure you have permissions for everything you'll be copying from elsewhere. (Also, the marketing department of the instrument company might give you a better quality image than the one you can scrape off their website) – The Photon Mar 14 '19 at 17:45
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You almost certainly need a copyright release in the form prescribed by your book publisher.

Track down the manufacturer's public relations office; one or two phone calls should be sufficient to find the right people. They will be very happy to supply you with pictures and the necessary copyright releases.

If you use these instruments in your own lab and they are at all expensive, or you have a lot of them, there will be an account executive (i.e. sales person) assigned to your institution. That person will likely be ecstatic to help you get what you need.

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  • Actually, if you use these instruments in your own lab, take your own photograph. Problem solved. – Bob Brown Apr 13 '19 at 11:49
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It might be legal or not, depending on where you are as well as on your purpose in reproducing them. If your purpose is something that they would object to, then you might be in trouble even if what you did is technically legal. Lawsuits, even unfair ones, filed by large companies are difficult and expensive to fight.

They probably hold copyright on the images and some companies wage war to protect both their copyright and their public image. If you think you are in this sort of situation, then I'd proceed cautiously and only with legal advice.

But if it is something that they would likely approve or find uncontroversial then asking might be the best route. For example, if you were wanting to write a user guide, they would probably think it fine.

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