(#10) View from the GA – A Reading on Copyright

Sherri Michaels and Jennifer Laherty have given me a series of readings about institutional repositories and the issues that affect them. I will be periodically posting my thoughts about these readings.

Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, by Peter Hirtle, Emily Hudson, and Andrew T. Kenyon goes over copyright law as it affects and applies to digitization projects at libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. This very detailed manual covers all the law’s parts and exemptions, with discussions of how they’ve changed over time. It also touches on trademark and privacy issues, especially as they apply to audio-visual materials. The text contains plenty of examples and case histories throughout, which keeps the discussions grounded in the real activities and problems of cultural institutions and their digitization projects. Hirtle, Hudson, and Kenyon have also included many tables, flowcharts, and checklists to help break down and map out the various steps and issues in dealing with copyright and permissions.
I found Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums extremely illuminating and helpful. The book was very well-organized and the progression through topics and parts of copyright law was logical and elegant. It was very readable, and contained almost no legalese. The authors frame solutions and approaches to copyright issues in terms of risk and its management rather than as a series of inflexible rules. This book gave me a better and fuller understanding of what the requirements, exceptions, and pitfalls are for library digitization projects. In addition, I gained a good perspective on copyright issues in the non-profit and educational environments.

Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums is available for download at http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/14142.