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Copying and copyright

Selection of guides available in the PRONI search room Volumes in a PRONI strongroom Visitors conducting research in the PRONI reading room

What can and cannot be copied?

Photocopying documents at PRONI.
The majority of documents in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) can be copied, however there are some instances where it will not be possible to make a copy. The main reasons are:
  • the document is fragile or damaged/there is a risk of damage to the document by copying it
  • the depositor has placed copying restrictions
  • there are copyright restrictions
It may also be necessary to refuse the copying of very large or bulky documents.  If you require photocopies of large single sheet maps up to A0 size, these are done off-site so it can take up to three weeks for your order to be processed.
We reserve the right only to copy original documents using the reprographic process that minimises the risk of damage.
PRONI staff will advise as to what can be copied and the costs involved in copying.  If a document cannot be copied, we will tell you why.  More detailed information can be found on documents which cannot be copied on preservation grounds.

What are your copying charges?

There are set fees and charges for the copying of documents, dependant on the size and type of document and the type of copy made.  Postage and packaging charges will be added if your copies need to be mailed out to you.  Please note, if you place a remote copy order (e.g. via post or email), there will also be a search and retrieval fee of £15.50 per order (see below).

How do I order a copy of a document on-site?

If you are visiting in person, the pages that you wish to copy should be clearly marked using a slip of paper (not a post-it note), indicating whether you wish to have the right or left hand side copied and a page number if recorded.
You must complete and sign the photocopy request and copyright declaration form, recording your name and address, visitor number, the unique document reference number/s and page number/s.

Can I request copies in writing, by e-mail or by phone?

You can contact PRONI in writing (letter or email) with copy orders, but we cannot accept orders over the telephone.
A search and retrieval fee (£15.50) is applied to all remote requests for copy documents in addition to the copying fee and postage and packaging, even when a specific PRONI reference number is supplied by the applicant.  This is to reflect work undertaken by PRONI when processing remote requests.  This includes validation of references, ordering and retrieval of the item/s from storage, checks to ensure the material matches the requirements of the customer and return to storage on completion of the order, all of which takes time and resources.
We will advise you of the cost of your order in advance and, if you wish to proceed, we will send you a photocopy request and copyright declaration form and a payment form.  These forms must be completed and returned, with either a cheque or postal order in pounds sterling made payable to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), before your order will be processed.

Can copies of documents be posted out?

Your copies can be posted out to you on request but postage and packaging charges will be added to the copying fee.

What type of copy can be produced?

PRONI offers a range of copying services - photocopy, microfilm print-outs and scanning.  
The preferred method of the delivery of scanned documents is via CD or DVD, however, a single scan can be sent via email if the file size does not exceed 5MB.

What quality of copies can I expect?

You are entitled to have as good a copy as can be produced – i.e. there is no missing text on the copy and all pages requested are copied.  However, there is no guarantee that the quality of the copy will always be legible - the original document might be so badly faded that it is impossible to obtain a good quality copy.  
Scanned documents will be delivered to you in JPEG format and will usually be saved at 300dpi.  Scans of higher resolution may be requested and PRONI will try to accommodate these requests.
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