Working with Copyright–Protected Materials in a Digital Environment





I. Type of organization

1. Please check the term which best describes your parent organization:

21   Academic institution

15   Museum

10   Library

7  Non-profit institution

3   For-profit institution

2   Government institution

2   Historical society

2. What function does your department perform within the organization:

21   Library

16   Archive

8   Museum

2  Curatorial

3. What is your role:

19   Project manager

16   Librarian

16   Administrator

14   Rights and permissions specialist

10   Archivist

8   Cataloger

0   Historian

II. Description of collection:

         1. What type of original materials are you digitizing:

37   Original photographs

27   Art

21   Documents with both text and images

15   Text only documents

12   Maps

5   Audio

4   Moving images

4   Architectural drawings

2. What is the planned size of your digital archive in total assuming availability of funding (include items you have previously digitized):

36   Under 50,000 items

17   Over 100,000 items

7   Under 100 items

7   Under 1,000 items

3   Under 100,000 items

3. Roughly how many individual scanned image files will this number of items represent:

34   Under 50,000 items

19   Over 100,000 items

7   Under 100 items

7   Under 1,000 items

5   Under 100,000 items

4. What % of your collection earmarked for digitization has been processed to date:

7   20.0%
6   5.0%
5   100.0%
4   80.0%
4   10.0%
3   1.0%
2   98.0%
2   60.0%
2   30.0%
2   25.0%
2   15.0%
2   00.5%
1   99.9%
1   99.0%
1   98.0%
1   75.0%
1   72.0%
1   70.0%
1   ~50.0%
1   50.0%
1   27.0%
1   12.5%
1   12.0%
1   03.0%
1   02.0%
1   00.1%
1 >01.0%
1   00.001%

5. Are you primarily digitizing:

33   Materials for which your organization holds copyright

31   Materials in the public domain

25   Materials under the copyright protection of another party

19   Materials of unknown copyright status

6. How do you provide access to your digital surrogates (check all that apply):

51   Database on website associated with your organization

12   CD-Rom/other removable media

7   Database on website associated with another organization

6   Stand-alone computer

7. Is your collection available with:

40   Some restrictions

18   No restrictions

If all or part of your collection has restrictions, which of the conditions below apply:

31   Available over the web to the general public

25   Available for internal use only to selected users

12   Available over the web to selected users

11   Available on CD-Rom or other removable media for:

10   purchase

6   by request

0   free

9   Available for on-site use to the general public

8. If you use materials copyrighted by others, how do you obtain permissions from copyright holders to digitize and display their materials (check all that apply):

35  Request permission from copyright holder to make materials available to all

9   Pay licensing fees to owners; no reimbursement from user

9   Pay licensing fees to owners subsidized by paying users

5   Negotiate technological means, such as password protection, to make materials available

6   With paying owners licensing fees

5   Without paying owners licensing fees

2   Negotiate other technological restrictions such as tethering

2   With paying owners licensing fees

2   Without paying owners licensing fees

9. Are you satisfied with the effectiveness/cost efficiency of this process:

33   Yes

18   No

10. How do you track the rights permissions process:

35   Via paper files

23   In a database

11. Have you received positive or negative reaction from any copyright holders regarding dissemination of materials on your site:


20   No

19   Yes


18   No

10   Yes

12. What do you feel are the strong and weak areas in your policies for working with copyrighted materials:

Go to end of this document for answers to question #12.

13. What types of guidelines or information would be helpful to you in your work with copyright protected material:

43   Permissions and clearances process/workflow

43   Digital rights management guidelines

38   Comparative chart of national practices, etc.

37   Interpretation of copyright laws & analysis in layman's language

35   Digital rights management metadata

27   Resource lists: websites, listserves, contact, etc.

14. Are you responsible for developing your department's copyright clearance procedures for your project:

34   Yes

24   No

Responses to question 12: What do you feel are the strong and weak areas in your policies for working with copyrighted materials?

"Strong -- we only put up stuff for which we have permission, so do not have to worry about legal challenges.  Weak -- this strict policy means that lots of documents are unavailable; I would love to find a legal way to make more materials available."

"Not co-coordinated or tracked. Specialized post has been created to deal specifically with IP management."

"Strong:  We have one person primarily responsible for rights clearance making the process easily trackable and ensuring that consistent and appropriate fees are required."

"Strength: try to work 100% in the public domain.
Weakness: therefore limited to particular set of works."

"The problems we experience are less in policies than procedures for project proposals.  People proposing projects have extremely vague and hazy notions about how copyright and intellectual property rights apply, and want to digitize anything that we own in our institution.  Thus, with every project, one of the initial tasks is educating the project leaders in copyright and IP rights."

"Identifying public domain materials, and documenting the reasons why we believe this is in the public domain."

"It really restricts us in time, i.e. can't do much of recent material which would be of great interest. Luckily many of the archives obtained copyright when they got collections, so some more recent material is available to be mounted."

"By dealing with materials that we own outright, we do not need to devote staff time to negotiating copyright costs."

"Many contributors and stakeholders do not understand copyright; what is public domain, what is not. We spend a lot of time educating and explaining why particular items cannot be included in the project due to copyright restrictions or difficulty locating copyright owner, for example."

"When ownership issues are muddied (physical items owned by other than copyright owner), licenses are more complex.  Our turnaround for putting licenses together is extremely long (months or years)."

"Strong: High informational and pedagogical value of our project. Information should not be password protected - it should be freely available. No other service provides similar information. Widely respected. We have a copyright statement on our website. Only 2 comments in 9 years!!! Weak: Heavy reliance on fair use. Uncertainty about campus users downloading images for classroom projection. I assume that is fair use. Other institutions are ambivalent about what we are doing: happy to have the resource, but nervous about our position. Neutral: Some precedent for digital fair use, but not much."

"The fact that we asked written permission first.  Also we are willing to remove any items on request (which has not yet been necessary)."

"We don't keep a database of contact information for copyright holders."

"Weakest areas are constantly requesting permission for everything...inability for the museum to make judiciary judgements. Artists and galleries making unreasonable demands as relates to simple permission requests."

"Strong: written inst'l policy & procedure being developed. Weak: no one to do the research so many staff get "stuck" with the work, therefore harder to be consistent."

"The strong areas are that we do not publish works that are copyrighted by another entity. The weak areas are that copyright owners more than ever are seeking profit for educational uses.  Also, the web is difficult to police."

"How to determine copyright status of materials acquired from 3rd party and ambiguous in ownership status."

"Strong: work together with publishers and authors. Weak: in the case of journals it is impossible to find out every single copyright holder, therefore we say that the permission of the editor is sufficent (which is not true)."

"Dealing with the gray area between 1923 and 1965."

"Strong: fair use is certainly the case in our educational setting. Weak: it is nearly impossible to deal with the copyright issue under our current staffing levels."

"We are still on the beginning end of managing our images. Our collections contain countless copyrighted images and I would like to make them available but the prospect of doing the necessary work without a sense of meeting a generally accepted standard for every image is daunting."

"Strong - we've developed an intellectual property policy to help make all museum staff aware of copyright considerations in their own projects."

"Keeping it straight between theatrical release, home video and international dept what rights were licensed for certain photos.  We try our best and have a pretty good record in this area. We don't license for every poster or ad, but many."

"Strong: the museum's dedication to honoring artist's wishes in terms of how we use copyrighted works of art."

"Weak: We don't yet have a policy. It is currently being written by yours truly. The other weak area is the lack of institutional support for recognizing the need for policies to guide our use and ownership of copyrighted materials."

"Strong:  guidelines for image distribution outside of institute.  Weak:  reinforcement of policies and constant exceptions."

"We are currently working with very clear material, so there is no problem with policy."

"Our policies allow our institution to preserve our photographic material digitally and make our digital surrogates available to patrons and staff on restricted basis.  Each distribution of a digital surrogate outside the library is documented through our records of written permissions from copyright holders."

"The retraction of permission has convinced me to get all permissions in writing before I start work."

"Mostly weak areas - communication to and compliance by staff of policies - and especially making them aware of copyright issues. People try to use things prior to our seeking and being granted permission and this creates much stress and work on all sides."

"Information about the objects must be clear and finding addresses can be difficult."

"Our practices reflect reality.  The vast majority of our images (just as the vast majority of textual materials in archives) are of unknown copyright holder or, through heirship, the intellectual property of many copyright holders, most or all unknown.  For any commercial or editorial use, we place the responsibility for copyright clearance on the user.  When the copyright holder is known, we supply that information to the user.  When acquiring collections from the photographer or a commercial entity we make sure the deed of gift is clear regarding copyright holder.  In the case of newspaper collections acquired years ago, we are negotiating licensing agreements with the newspaper."

"There is no one unit or person in the library responsible for working with policies."