UKOLN AHDS Intellectual Property Rights


Internet IPR is inherently complex, breaking across geographical boundaries, creating situations that are illegal in one country, yet not in another, or contradict existing laws on Intellectual Property. Copyright is a subset of IPR, which applies to all artistic works. It is automatically assigned to the creator of original material, allowing them to control all public usage (copying, adaptation, performance and broadcasting).

Ensuring that your organization complies with Intellectual Property rights requires a detailed understanding of two processes:

  1. Managing copyright on own work.
  2. Establishing ownership of 3rd party copyright.

Managing Copyright on Own Work

Unless indicated, copyright is assigned to the author of an original work. When producing work it is essential that it be established who will own the resulting product the individual or the institution. Objects produced at work or university may belong to the institution, depending upon the contract signed by the author. For example, the copyright for this document belongs to the AHDS, not the author. When approaching the subject, the author should consider several issues:

When producing work as an individual that is intended for later publication, the author should establish ownership rights to indicate how work can be used after initial publication:

Copyright Clearance

Copyright is an automatically assigned right. It is therefore likely that the majority of works in a digital collection will be covered by copyright, unless explicitly stated. The copyright clearance process requires the digitiser to check the copyright status of:

Copyright clearance should be established at the beginning of a project. If clearance is denied after the work has been included in the collection, it will require additional effort to remove it and may result in legal action from the author.

In the event that an author, or authors, is unobtainable, the project is required to demonstrate they have taken steps to contact them. Digital preservation projects are particularly difficult in this aspect, separating the researcher and the copyright owner by many years. In many cases, more recently the 1986 Domesday project, it has proven difficult to trace authorship of 1000+ pieces of work to individuals. In this project, the designers created a method of establishing permission and registering objections by providing contact details that an author could use to identify their work.

Indicating IPR through Metadata

If permission has been granted to reproduce copyright work, the institution is required by law to indicate intellectual property status. Metadata is commonly used for this purpose, storing and distributing IP data for online content. Several metadata bodies provide standardized schemas for copyright information. For example, IP information for a book could be stored in the following format.

<book id="bk112">
<author>Galos, Mike</author>
<title>Visual Studio 7: A Comprehensive Guide</title>
          <publisher>Addison Press</publisher>
          <copyright>Galos, M. 2001</copyright>

Access inhibitors can also be set to identify copyright limitations and the methods necessary to overcome them. For example, limiting e-book use to IP addresses within a university environment.

Further Information