Digital collections: what about copyrights?

KBR wants to make its large collection of heritage materials available to the widest possible audience. However, Belgian copyright legislation does not allow us to put our entire digitised collection online.

On this page you find information on how to consult KBR’s digital collections and what kind of restrictions apply.

Copyright in Belgium

In Belgium, copyright law provides protection for up to 70 years after the death of the author. Works are automatically protected by copyright, so an author does not have to fulfill any formalities.

KBR is not allowed to make works that are (possibly) protected by copyright freely accessible.

Freely accessible content

The following documents are published online without any access restrictions:

  • Works that are free of copyright.
  • Works that are subject to copyright and for which KBR has the consent of the right holders.
  • Orphan works, for which the right holders cannot be identified.

Newspapers: a ‘special case’

A newspaper is regarded by law as a collaboration between different authors. In case of multiple authors, the law provides protection for 70 years after the death of the last surviving author. In order to be sure that a newspaper is copyright free, it is necessary to formally identify all the authors and find their dates of death. In practice, this is impossible.

This is why KBR has chosen to take the year 1918 as its limit: a compromise between strict legal certainty and the service we provide to our readers.

Access to digitised newspapers

KBR chooses 1918 as the limit for copyright protection. For the digitised newspapers (BelgicaPress) and periodicals (BelgicaPeriodicals) this means the following:

  • Newspapers and periodicals published before 1918 are freely accessible to all.
  • Newspapers and periodicals published after 1918 have limited access:
    1. via the computers in the reading rooms and the KBR WiFi network
    2. via the Belgian national research network (BELNET) for universities, colleges, schools and research centers
    3. via your MyKBR account

Access via your MyKBR account

Log in with your MyKBR account for remote access to the entire digitised corpus, without any restrictions. Please note that this is only allowed if the documents will be used as illustration for teaching or for scientific research. Belgian copyright legislation provides explicit exceptions for these purposes.

Anyone can create a MyKBR account free of charge.

Create your MyKBR account

Copyright and digitisation

Publishing a reproduction

If you want to use of publish an image from our collections, you need to obtain permission beforehand. In certain cases, you can get an exemption from the payment of copyright.

Request publishing rights

Our digitisation policy

KBR’s digitisation policy takes into account the statutory regulations related to copyrights:

  • Prior to digitisation, the DIGIT Department checks whether or not a work is protected. The results are entered in a register.
  • This information is included in the metadata to determine the extent to which these sources may be disseminated.
  • The department also checks what kind of licence applies for metadata and images that have been created.


If you have questions about KBR’s digitisation policy, you can contact us via qvtvg@xoe.or.

If, despite all precautions, you come across a copyrighted source in our online offer, please contact us via the above address. We will rectify it as soon as possible.