Astrid Bovell on July 9th, 2014
This flow chart surfaced through our Research and Data Management team who thought we’d get a kick out of it… YEP! We LOVE it! 🙂
Often people think that digitising a collection of material will be a wonderful way to give that collection the light of day and that is entirely true – As one friend said to me the other day “if I can’t find it on Google, then it may as well not exist”. However, while that’s true, you have to remember when you’re digitising a collection, you’re making a copy…. and when you make a copy of anything, you need to think about copyright!
Unless you own all the copyright, have permission from the copyright owner(s), or you can guarantee that all the content is out of copyright (including in the country the content originated in!), you’ll have to pause your project here. Why? Because if none of the above is true, it means you need to work out what steps you’ll need to take before YOU have the right to digitise and share that content with the world!
Before you digitise content you don’t own the copyright in, ask yourself if there’s a provision or an exception in the Copyright Act that allows you to do what you want with the material? Then DOUBLE CHECK that the provision or exception in the Copyright Act does in fact allow you to do what you think it should. While you’re there, check that the provision or exception applies to you and your circumstances. Remember that some exceptions – like fair use – are restricted to operations in the US and is not a provision that someone working in Australia can rely on!
If there isn’t a provision to protect you, before you start digitising the content, work out how many permission requests it’s going to take to have the rights to make this content available. Is it going to be too large a task to seek all of those permissions? If so, then it’s probably better to shelve this digitisation project until you have the time or resources to facilitate the permissions.
Think about whether any of your requests may incur a significant fee. If you have a request that may result in a significant fee, work on that permission first. That way if it’s outside of your budget, you can reconsider whether it’s worth digitising the collection if you can’t afford that particular piece.
The point about all of this is to think through your options and steps BEFORE you digitise. That way if there’s a road block, you haven’t spent your precious time digitising a collection that you can’t use or share.