Query about Xinhua images

Julia Lovell's picture

Dear All,

I have three questions about images relating to the 1950s-70s. Any advice would be much appreciated. Online or offline replies are fine.

First, I'm currently chasing image permissions for a book on Mao-era China and was wondering what the situation is regarding Xinhua photographs. A well-informed Chinese studies librarian has suggested that, as the PRC did not sign up to an international copyright agreement until after the 1970s, images published in mainland China during the Mao era are not subject to international copyright laws as normally apply in publishing in the UK and US, and can therefore be used freely if they are otherwise in the public domain (which, I guess, could include publication in China Pictorial). I would very much like to know list-members' views and past practice.

Second, could anyone share experience that they've had applying for image permissions from the Xinhua historical photograph archive in Beijing? I've benefited from advice from a couple of list-members, but would like to gain as much counsel as possible. I understand that personal, on-site access (and therefore general browsing of the archive) is very difficult, but it's possible to negotiate by phone/email on specific images if you know the exact photograph you want to use. 

Third, does anyone know whether Xinhua owns copyright to this image, of Mao and Edgar Snow on the viewing platform at Tiananmen, from the early 1970s:


I understand that the Snow estate holds copyright but was wondering if there are any other copyright holders.

Thank you very much and all good wishes for autumn,

Julia Lovell


Birkbeck College

University of London

Categories: Query