The Library maintains a number of collections containing rare and unique materials. Often these collections contain a mix of published and unpublished material.

In order to facilitate access, copying and publishing, donors of rare and unique material are asked to complete a  rights agreement which sets out agreed conditions under which a library patron may, for example, make copies for research or study, or publish an extract in a book.  Library staff will refer first to these rights agreements when determining how you may use material in a particular collection.

The following is a summary of the most commonly requested information about copyright and rights in the Maps Collection.


Usually the copyright owner is the creator of a work (or their heirs and successors). For maps published by a corporate publisher the copyright is usually owned by the publisher.


Maps published in or before 1954 are free of copyright. For maps published in 1955 or later by a government publisher, copyright lasts for 50 years after the end of the year the map was published. For maps published in 1955 or later by a non government publisher, copyright lasts for 70 years after the end of the year the map was published.

For example a map published by a government publisher in 1960 will become free of copyright at the start of 2011. If published in 1960 by a non government publisher it will become free of copyright at the start of 2031. For unpublished maps, such as hand drawn items, copyright may continue indefinitely.

Copyright also covers map material that has not been published.


For a map in copyright

To copy an entire map in copyright, permission is required from the copyright holder. It is your responsibility to obtain such permission before the copying order is processed. Many publishers may provide a copy for you themselves.

Maps still in copyright can be copied for you in libraries under "fair dealing" exemptions of the Copyright Act 1968 for the purposes of research and study. However, you will need to demonstrate that you have followed your obligations under the Copyright Act. For a map in copyright a 10% portion of the map may be copied for research or study purposes only. In practice this usually means one A4 size portion (21cm x 30cm) of the map only. You do not need permission from the copyright owner to obtain a copy of a portion of a map as long as it is used for the purposes of research or study only. Permission is needed if you wish to copy the entire map, or if you intend to reproduce, display, publish or sell the copy.

For a map out of copyright

A map out of copyright held in our collection may be wholly copied subject to preservation requirements. Some maps may not be able to be photocopied as they are too old, rare or fragile. This material may be damaged by the stress, light and heat of the photocopying process. Usually this material may be photographed instead.


Should you wish to publish material from the Library's Maps Collection, you do not need to obtain permission from the Library. You will need to obtain copyright clearance from the copyright holder(s) if the map is still in copyright. Please also provide an accompanying citation which acknowledges the National Library as custodian, and includes a collection number for the item.