Pushing Libraries and Archives to the Edge of the Law

23 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2010

See all articles by Bobby Glushko

Bobby Glushko

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information; University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2010


The ability to digitize hard copies, the proliferation of born digital content, and access to online distribution holds the promise of improved access to archival materials. Despite these advances, libraries and archives are increasingly hindered in providing this access by the legal issues surrounding their collections.  However, this unfortunate problem can be resolved with a mixture of good policy, careful action, clarification of uncertain legal implications, and a reliance on the protections afforded to libraries and archives by the law. 

This paper explores the legal issues faced by archivists and librarians in digitizing and distributing their materials.  Through a discussion of current archiving practices, this paper walks readers though the relevant sections of the copyright act, as well as other implicated areas of the law.  By showing potential sites of legal conflict, engaging difficulties with seeking permission to use library and archival content, and suggesting areas where archivists can push the boundaries of their rights more aggressively, this paper provides a glimpse of the legal landscape surrounding digital archiving, and offers suggestions on how to successfully navigate it.  It is my sincere hope that this effort can empower librarians and archivists to make full use of their collections, to assert the full scope of their rights under the law, and to become advocates helping to shape the national discussion over the future of digital collections.

Keywords: archives, libraries, copyright, fair use, 108

Suggested Citation

Glushko, Bobby, Pushing Libraries and Archives to the Edge of the Law (May 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1659853 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1659853

Bobby Glushko (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
4152449936 (Phone)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information ( email )

304 West Hall
550 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1092
United States

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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