Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Preservation, 21st November 2011

Wills Hall, University of Bristol

Wills Hall, University of Bristol. Photo: VADS

The following blog post has been compiled from personal notes as well as from my own tweets on the day (@MTG_work), where content from other tweets have been referenced these are indicated in brackets.

The ‘Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Preservation‘ briefing day was held at Wills Hall, University of Bristol, hosted by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and JISC Digital Media.

The nature of the problem, Andrew Charlesworth, Bristol University
Charlesworth began on a positive note ‘everyone likes digital preservation’, or in general most people see it as a positive thing with the exception of the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’. He provided a powerful image of digital preservation as ‘Bambi’; the following image was of a snake squeezing a cute deer – representing IPR squeezing digital preservation. There is a need for copyright law to acknowledge a clear role for digital preservation. Some of the issues are that the law is out-of-date and there are limited incentives for policy makers to change the law. However the public benefit is clear, for example allowing access to data in the field of medicine (Ref: @copyrightgirl). The Copyright Design and Patents Act (CDPA) treats digital and non-digital formats differently and preservation copying is limited (Ref: @copyrightgirl). Due to limitations with the law we are set up to fail; it is restrictive and not practicable. Charlesworth also mentioned the example of the BBC Domesday project which highlights the problems of digital preservation (Ref: Even if you follow best practice with metadata, how do you get it to ‘stick’? i.e. to stop it being stripped out?


The major issues around digital preservation are legal, technical and practical: how do you educate your end users/depositors?

Charlesworth spoke about the Hargreaves influence i.e. the UK economy is actually losing out because of the limitations of copyright law.

Andrew Charlesworth has been commissioned by the DPC with Neil Beagrie to produce a new Technology Watch Report on intellectual property rights and digital preservation; an outline is available to DPC members.

Issues of Ownership: case studies in depositing and licensing from the Wellcome Library, Chris Hilton, The Wellcome Library
Hilton showed a slide with the current Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model, and then reproduced the same workflow in its most basic delineation i.e. ‘get stuff’ etc… This produced a lot of laughs, but also had a serious point to make about what essentially archives are trying to do. Hilton talked about the ownership of digital content and the issues with proliferating copies; at the Wellcome Library they try and get around some of these issues by asking for ownership to be transferred at point of deposit i.e. to transfer title of ‘platonic digital original’ rather than ‘deposit a copy’ (Ref: @WilliamKilbride). This exclusivity clause is written into depositor agreements in order to limit risk of proliferating copies -there is more value in scarcity (Ref: @copyrightgirl). Some of the issues with how digital content is shown to readers in the Reading Room have not been resolved yet i.e. there need to be measures in place to avoid risk of proliferating copies. Hilton spoke about ’emotional ownership’, giving the example of a series of papers by Sir Charles Wilson (Lord Moran) (Ref: ‘Emotional ownership’ is a key archival soft skill, especially in working to allow digital access to archives. The Wellcome’s digitisation programme is acting as a test bed, nothing under ten years old will be Web accessible, although there will be a few exceptions as appropriate. Hilton mentioned a paper written in Ariadne titled ‘Trust me I’m an Archivist‘; there is this concept of building trust.

Case study 2: legalities, migration and emulation, David Anderson, KEEP Project, University of Portsmouth
Anderson raised the issue of ‘reputation’ with regards to digital preservation – no organisation wants to be seen to be breaking the law (Ref: @copyrightgirl). The KEEP project used emulation as a digital preservation strategy as they wanted to keep project tools and services clearly within the law. Anderson provided an overview of information society directives and mentioned the Berne three-step test.


The exceptions to copyright across the EU Directives are really fragmented: no wonder EC are thinking about a unified Copyright Code

Anderson spoke about multimedia works: there is no clear legal definition, they are seen as complex works which means a work acquires the protection of the most strongly protected part. Anderson asked: what about the digital preservation of the Technical Measures of Protection (TMP) itself? as the TMP can be removed prior to deposit in some cases.

Case study 3: group discussion and practical exercise, JISC Digital Media
This was a good activity led by John Hargreaves in which we broke up into four groups to read a complex case study of a digital project. Each group discussed how they would advise the project to proceed regarding IPR and copright; one group amusingly said ‘don’t do the project’; in fact this was an anonymised case study taken from a real life project.

Escrow services for long term access: emerging trends and issues, Barbara Kolany, ITM, Muenster University
It was very interesting to hear about Escrow agreements, something which I got the impression was quite new to most people. An Escrow is a contract which is held by a third party, and could be used to enable long term access to digital content in a variety of circumstances. Kolany provided the example of three parties who might use an Escrow: a software developer (or licensor); a user of the software (or licensee); and an Escrow agent – the Escrow agent would verify and deposit the sourcecode – the user would have access to the sourcecode through the Escrow agent. One benefit for the user is that the software developer cannot remove the deposit material without first letting them know. An Escrow is also good for risk management as it can set out contractually what will happen if the software developer (or licensor) becomes insolvent, and thereby support ongoing access to the software/services. The nature of the Escrow contract depends on who is defined as the owner of the deposit material; this can be any one of the parties. Escrow agreements are flexible and can be used for software, databases, website, and data, including cloud computing services.

Link: Timeless Business sponsored by EC Directorate for Information Society (TIMBUS)

Emerging Trends: Let’s All Meet Up in 2015 – what will IPR for digital preservation look like then, Jason Miles Campbell, JISC Legal
The Hargreaves Review shows that the government recognise we need change in order to drive our economy, but there is still a need to establish business models that work. There was discussion about the benefits and issues with establishing a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) – and the day after the DPC/JISC Digital Media event the following was published by the Intellectual Property Office:
William Kilbride asked Campbell what was top of his list – the answer was ‘orphan works’. In the words of @copyrightgirl:

2039 for expiration of copyright in unpublished works is crazy, would solve a lot of issues if Term Directive implemented properly

Some of the themes that were being discussed then fed directly into the panel discussion which Campbell was actively involved in.

Link: JISC Legal – Legal Guidance for ICT Use in Education, Research and External Engagement

Panel session and discussion, William Kilbride (DPC)

  • Risk management – issues with institutional reputation and bond of trust, also no-one wants to be a test-case
  • Being risk adverse is not always a good thing, it is a question of balance (risk management)
  • Are the Government setting an example with their Open Data i.e. it is not always properly checked and of high quality but they are putting it out there
  • Linked data was mentioned in terms of issues with IPR; although it seems this is more of a problem with too many levels of metadata being stacked on top of each other; linked datasets can be described with VoID Vocabularies (Ref: