Thursday, May 07, 2009

Copyright and the future of research

I went to this British Library breakfast on Tuesday and began to worry about the future of academic research, unless proposals like this are implemented . The IP Minister, David Lammy, was present. The backdrop is this: the majority of C20th century books, papers, journals, video, film and radio are in copyright and are not available digitally to academic researchers.

...Chief Executive of the British Library Dame Lynne Brindley launched the Library's campaign to ensure that copyright issues of importance to the research and education sector are included in the ongoing public debate on copyright and are reflected in any subsequent legislation, rules or regulations resulting from recent Government initiatives. These suggestions include:

* Public Interest - Many contracts undermine the public interest exceptions in copyright law agreed by Parliament to foster education, learning and creativity. Addressing this issue is crucial so that existing and new exceptions are not over-ridden by contract law.
* Preserving our cultural heritage - Libraries must be able to make preservation of copies of the material they acquire, including web harvesting of the UK domain.
* Orphan works - 40% of the British Library's collections are Orphan Works (where the rightsholder can no longer be found or traced). A legislative solution to Orphan Works would help provide access to the UK's large historical collections over the internet.
*Fair Dealing - Researchers and libraries need to be able to make available "fair dealing copies" of anything in their collections, including sound and film recordings that Fair Dealing does not currently relate to.
*Technology Neutral - Computer based research techniques, such as scientific research, needs to be allowed by future copyright law, in the same way that in the analogue world research activity is protected through "fair dealing".

From the BL newsroom.

To give a good example: how does the historian creating a portrait of the late C20th do so without video, television, radio - and easy digital access to literature? All in one place.

One example that was provided was the film researcher in Edinburgh who must travel to London (and the British Film Institute) to access specific commercially unavailable film content. If she could have the film delivered digitally to her computer in Scotland she would save around £600 in travel grants - each time.

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