Pushing Libraries and Archives to the Edge of the Law
23 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2010
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: Suggested Citation